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Introduction to the Pavilion

The primary purpose of our pavilion is to provide an environment in which our visitors can engage on a personal level with our exhibitions, displays, workshops and performances— and, most importantly, with our pavilion team.

The pavilion was designed by Government of Ireland architects from the Office of Public Works (OPW). Bringing classical western and Islamic traditions together, the architects discovered "a shared concern for gathering spaces such as courtyards and cloisters, protection from the elements, and a mathematical response to building proportions along with elemental or primary geometric shapes."

The building plan is made up of two conjoined, square elements. The first is fully enclosed and climate controlled. The second is a cloistered courtyard. To one side is an enclosed room, with a glazed wall to the courtyard, which will house our permanent exhibition, We Are The Makers.

Irish pavilion floor plan

Externally, the two building elements have a common architectural language of elemental columns and beams. The columns are both structural and architectural, providing stability and shade. Between the columns is an Irish interpretation of the Arabic solar shading device, comprising panels that are air-permeable while providing protection from the desert sun. The perforations in the panels are based on the digitised survey of 5,000-year-old carved rock art at Knowth, in the UNESCO Boyne Valley heritage site.

At night, these laser-cut designs are be illuminated. Landscape treatment gives the pavilion a natural, green setting. Internally, the visitor is guided through a series of experiences—from the Oculus to the Courtyard and then to the exhibitions—telling stories of Ireland in compelling ways that address our theme of creativity.

The ambience moves from dramatic to engaging and from contemplative to relaxing. The design objective is to provide a memorable experience for our visitors, made surprising and personal through engagement with our staff.