Swiss Pavilion Dubai 2020

Under the title Grande Complication, HHF Architects have submitted a design for the competition to construct the national pavilion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. Together with the scenographers and exhibition designers Tamschick Media+Space and Atelier Oï and the landscape architects Antón & Ghiggi, HHF developed the idea of creating a spatial and visual-acoustic experience in the form of an open interactive landscape.

The name of the project derives from the tradition-rich Swiss watch industry. It refers to a complex mechanical movement that, in addition to displaying the time with hour, minute, seconds, also features special supplementary functions — known as complications. Those who enter the Swiss Pavilion do not find themselves inside a Swiss building, but in an opened-up clock mechanism, a well-oiled entertainment machine, in which the wheels and cogs are perfectly coordinated.

Five cylindrical building volumes of different diameters accommodate the spatial program: exhibition areas, a shop and café, a panoramic restaurant, a meditative green space, and the VIP area with rooftop terrace. They are positioned as a loose ensemble on the pavilion grounds, which is freely accessible from all sides. Oversized installations of traditional Swiss instruments — a music box, a panoramic xylophone, and a Schwyzerörgeli parade — are integrated into the drum-like building as mobile elements. Additional single-user installations, such as sound totems, media screens, and listening stations, are distributed across the open site. Large round umbrellas covered with textile patterns from St. Gallen unite the individual building volumes — which vary in height between two and three stories – into a single roof landscape.

The sources for the mechanical aesthetic of the pavilion and its sequences are Jean Tinguely’s kinetic sculptures and the complex, absurd to playful works of Fischli/Weiss. The pavilion takes those kinetic works further, transforming them into a cybernetic sound and multimedia composition that can be manipulated and adapted by its visitors. Architecture, exhibition and outdoor space form a unique Gesamtkunstwerk of Swiss object art, which culminates every hour in a parametric composition – La Grande Complication.