Bird is the Word The kinetic sculpture-adorned Polish Pavilion takes flight at Expo 2020 Dubai

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Santiago Calatrava’s “wing”-ringed UAE Pavilion isn’t the only avian-inspired work of architecture to rise on the 1,000-plus-acre Expo 2020 Dubai site.

Located in Expo 2020’s Mobility District on a prime corner spot next to the Republic of Korea Pavilion and the Hungary Pavilion, the Polish Pavilion takes the form of a boxy, timber-clad modular structure—a soaring, shade-providing “tree” of sorts—enveloped in a large-scale kinetic sculpture meant to resemble a flock of birds in flight. Specifically, the installation symbolizes the migration of birds from Poland to the Arab world and provides a nice spot to duck out of sweltering desert heat to catch a bit of shade courtesy of the massive flock overhead (without worry about being “blessed” by the birds in question).

a multimedia installation composed of large wooden blocks and other elements
The Polish Table (© WXCA, Bellprat Partner)

As the pavilion’s creative team elaborated in a statement, the high-flying sculpture represents “the richness of Polish avifauna, and also serves as a universal notion of mobility–of people, ideas and natural resources.”

While the roughly 21,50o-square-foot pavilion itself—themed Poland: creativity inspired by nature—and the concept of its exhibition were executed by Warsaw-based architecture practice WXCA with Swiss design studio Bellprat Partner, a trio of studios oversaw the final creative concept and detailed narrative of the exhibition along with its key experiences and multimedia components. Those include the Amsterdam-based Tellart, which also co-designed the UAE Pavilion guest experience with fellow Dutch design studio Kossmanndejong, Polish creative studio Science Now, and Stellar Fireworks, a design and production studio with offices in Gdańsk and Warsaw. WXCA and Bellprat’s pavilion was announced as the winning proposal in 2018, beating out more than 30 other contenders.

exterior of a wooden pavilion building clad in a large sculptural installation
(© WXCA, Bellprat Partner)

“World fairs are a fantastic opportunity to charm visitors from around the world about one’s culture, the natural environment and entrepreneurial endeavours,” said Jan Pomierny and Lukasz Alwast, heads of Science Now and Stellar Fireworks, respectively, in a joint statement. “A mixture of a sophisticated amusement park and a narrative museum, but about countries, organisations and causes. We wanted to make sure the exhibition of the Polish Pavilion is an intriguing and playful experience for the general public, but at the same time offers a degree of nuance and in-depth storytelling for those visitors who wish to learn more about the marvels of Polish culture, science, economy and tourism.”

Inside the pavilion, the Polish national exhibition focuses on what the creative team has called the “two pillars of Polish creativity.” The first pillar is the social capital based upon “hard-working, resourceful, ingenious and knowledgeable people,” while the second is the diverse natural environment of the Central European country “that has always been a source of inspiration and tranquility for succeeding generations of Poles.”

“The diversity and beauty of Polish nature, and its influence on local identity, is evident in the rich historical and contemporary heritage displayed throughout the Pavilion, while also drawing a path towards a more resourceful and sustainable future,” explained the creative team .

looking up at a large kinetic installation resembling a flock of birds
(© WXCA, Bellprat Partner)

Visitors to the bird-flocked Polish Pavilion, which also features fluttering sculptural installations spread throughout its interior, can immerse themselves in the story of contemporary Poland via five distinct narrative chapters/experiences:

The first chapter, Poland. Inspired by nature, unfolds in the pavilion waiting area, which is populated with plants, soundscapes, videos, and artistic illustrations representing the five “characteristic landscapes” of the country: the Baltic coast, ancient forests and wetlands, mountains, meadows, and lakes. Beyond the waiting area, the second experience, Poland. A home for creativity, revolves around the crowd-drawing centerpiece of the exhibition, a voice-activated interactive installation dubbed The Polish Table. Realized in the pavilion’s main hall, the multimedia art installation, created from wooden blocks and modules made from native-sourced materials, acts as “a pleasant space for multicultural greetings and explorations of Polish stories of land, nature, design and craftsmanship.” (RAZ and Ejsak Group designed and fabricated the installation.)

Beyond The Polish Table, the third narrative chapter, Poland. Spirit of Ingenuity, shares the achievements of Polish innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs via over 200 stories that unfold through choreographed video and motion graphics narration. The fourth chapter, Poland. Land of Plenty, is a temporary exhibition space where a slew of Polish cultural institutions and regional organizations will host revolving (they change every week) pop-ups throughout the six-month run of the Expo, which is the first non-specialized World’s Fair held in the Middle East.

(© WXCA, Bellprat Partner)

The fifth and final experience, Poland. Landscapes of creativity, is described by the creative team as a “one-of-a-kind art installation composed from 50 pieces of mirror-polished steel and interactive, immersive scenarios that encourage visitor playfulness and collaboration.”

In addition the core exhibition zones, the Polish Pavilion features a pierogi-serving café, gift shop, dedicated play zone for kids, and a venue for daily live musical performances.

Working alongside the main creative and design team, over 100 artists and creators collaborated with north of 200 Polish scientific and cultural institutions to bring the exhibition to life. The Polish Pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020 is a project of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency. Everyday operations at the Polish Pavilion are overseen by students hailing from five different Polish universities.

The year-delayed Expo 2020 Dubai runs through March 31, 2022.