Finland brings “snow to the desert” at Expo 2020 Dubai

Published: 21 February 2020 - 9 a.m.

Taking shape within Expo 2020 Dubai’s Mobility District is the Snow Cape-styled Finland Pavilion that focuses on the theme “Shaping Future Happiness”.

The pavilion was topped out on 11 February 2020, with the last piece of the steel beam being installed to complete the structure.

“The entire structure has been done including the steel structure. The steel structure is about 30% of the whole construction work. In a couple of weeks we will have the sandwich panels covering the building so it will be air condition-tight, water- and sand-tight. The pieces have been made already, it is just a matter of installing them,” Commissioner General of Finland at Expo 2020 Dubai, Severi Keinälä, tells Construction Week, while speaking on the sidelines of the topping out ceremony.

A consortium of five companies including Expomobilia, JKMM Architects, Factor Nova, Beyond Limits, and Five Currents are working on the pavilion, with main contractor Cimolai Rimond Middle East, which was also the general contractor for the Al Wasl Plaza, located at the heart of the expo’s 4.38km2 site.

Speaking to Construction Week about the ideation stage of the Finnish Pavilion’s design, founding partner and lead architect at JKMM Architects, and chief designer of the pavilion, Teemu Kurkela, says: “This idea of bringing snow to the desert creates the most contrast. You have a country with hot weather conditions with a lot of sun and you have a country where it is very cold and snowy, so that is the extreme contrast.”

“From the outside we are trying to make Snow Cape, where the pavilion is covered with fabric so the outside shell is like white tensile fabric, but it also looks like an Arabic tent,” Kurkela adds.

JKMM was also the architect of Finland’s pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010.

According to Keinälä, when visitors enter the Finnish Pavilion and visit the exhibition, they will get to know more about Finland’s natural resources, and sectors including energy, smart cities, digitalisation with mobile communications, technology, healthcare, education, and consumer goods.

Keinälä says through Finland’s participation, the country will share its “competencies” and “find partners in business and in research”.

Talking about the the presence of several Finnish companies at the World Expo, Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, tells Construction Week that about 100 Finnish companies will participate at the World Expo.

He says, this will bring “brilliant opportunities” for these companies, which according to him will help get “more financing” and boost “economic development” for Finland.

“It is the clearest signal Finnish companies have ever given about their interest to reach out to Dubai, to the UAE, and to the wider region. We want to be part of that effort and we want to create a platform for the companies to reinforce their current partnerships and also to be there to find new partnerships,” Finland’s Ambassador to the UAE, Marianne Nissilä, tells Construction Week.

Following its announcement to participate at Expo 2020 Dubai, Finland was among the first countries to begin construction work on its national pavilion.

Taking Construction Week through the journey of the pavilion’s construction, chief customer officer of Expomobilia — the Swiss contractor known for temporary structures — Dietmar Kautschitz, says: “In August 2019 we had the plot possession and then we started mobilising on the site. Shortly after, in September, we began with the excavation works.”

Kautschitz says that over 45% of the construction of the pavilion has been completed, including civil works and steel works.

Talking about the materials and their reusability, Kautschitz says: “The foundation shell will be concrete. The steel structure will go back to the steel factory, where they will be melted and reused for some other products. The steel is being supplied by German Steel.”

Kautschitz stresses that the sandwich panels that will envelope the building, have already been planned to be given away “as a gift to a newcomer to take this material and clad their warehouse”.

Expomobilia along with Cimolai Rimond Middle East has deployed between 25 to 30 labourers and five safety managers on the construction site. “We are very safe on the site and we are taking care of our labourers”, Kautschitz affirms.

“We ensure that we have a clean construction site that is the basic to avoid any incident on the site. Our labourers are trained every day by our safety managers. So far, we have had no accidents.”

On the day of the topping out ceremony, Cimolai Rimond Middle East recorded 37,312 Lost Time Injury-free (LTI) man-hours on the construction site of the pavilion, with the total number of days worked being 172.

OxyPro Technical Services is supplying the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) equipment including four chillers for the pavilion. Following the completion of the Expo, the company will take the units back and reuse it.

The tensile fabric used for the façade of the pavilion will be reused to make handbags.

Explaining further about the concept of reusability of the materials for the Finland pavilion, Keinälä tells Construction Week that around 85% of the materials are reusable and 15% will be recycled and used for road construction.

Stressing on the timeline of construction completion, Keinälä concludes: “Overall, all works will be completed by 20 September 2020.”

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