British designer Es Devlin is behind the United Kingdom’s pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. The UK Pavilion—also called the Poem Pavilion—features cross-laminated timber extrusions displaying poems generated by AI. The poems are displayed as illuminated text at the ends of each extrusion and are made of words submitted by guests at the exposition. Visitors can submit words in both English and Arabic for poems in either language.
The pavilion uses technology to represent Devlin's positive associations with the culture in the UK. “The pavilion is at once an expression of the ideal of a culturally diverse Britain that I grew up with,” he explains, “tempered with our growing awareness of the part algorithms play in shaping the future of our culture.”
The entire pavilion demonstrates European and international collaboration, even in its construction. The cross-laminated timber was grown and assembled in Austria and Italy, but the LED tiles used to show the poems were engineered in Belgium, manufactured in China, and are now displayed using an algorithm engineered in California.
The pavilion elegantly merges ideas of culture with artificial intelligence, though Devlin believes that these elements are becoming more integrated every day. “Algorithms are among us, they are an ever-growing part of our culture, their output is based on what they are trained on and who trains them,” says Devlin.
Experts who worked on the project included structural engineer Atelier One, environmental design consultant Atelier Ten, Avantegarde creative agency, and executive architect Veretec.
For more pavilions and exhibits, check out the full list of projects displayed at Dubai Expo 2020.