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At the Netherlands Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, designers and artists are shining the spotlight on technological innovation. Artists Birthe Leemeijer, Kadir van Lohuizen, Joep van Lieshout, Berndnaut Smilde and Theo Jansen seek to stimulate the senses at the Dutch Biotope. Not only do they add aesthetic value through the power of their imagination, they also help promote a wider acceptance of new technology, resulting in a more beautiful and better world.

As soon visitors enter the semi-sunken pavilion, they are surrounded by the fragrance of Mastenbroek polder, an olfactory installation by Birthe Leemeijer. In his photographs Kadir van Lohuizen captures the effects of climate change and contemporary food production in a probing way. Joep van Lieshout’s clocks sound as if they are heralding the end of time – or is it the dawn of a new age? Berndnaut Smilde creates clouds that float through the air. Outside, Theo Jansen’s ‘Strandbeests’ – constructions of PVC tubes driven by the wind – roam the grounds. These artists, and others, show that when it comes to innovation, aesthetics may be more important than technology in encouraging broad acceptance – a prerequisite for solving global challenges.

The art programme is inspired by V8’s design for the Netherlands Pavilion, dubbed ‘the Biotope’, and it is the embodiment of the chosen theme of ‘uniting water, energy and food’. The pavilion demonstrates the connection that the Netherlands has succeeded in forging between sustainable energy, water management, agriculture and circularity. Designers and artists are already a key part of all this with their unique innovations. The story of the Biotope starts with artistic innovations like the ‘Rainmaker’ by SunGlacier or Marjan van Aubel’s skylights. Their work deals with scent, sound, movement, time, mortality and evolution. They remind us of the vulnerability and fragility of our world and the growing depletion of natural resources – a highly relevant issue in the Middle East – and present concepts and innovations that stir the imagination and stimulate the senses.

‘We are honoured to have these Dutch artists as guests at the Biotope. They add layers of perception and imagination to the world and inspire us to think beyond the rational, opening up new and unexpected vistas. Artists and designers drive innovation and greatly enhance our problem-solving potential,’ says Hans Sandee, Consul General for the Netherlands in Dubai.

About the Netherlands pavilion
The Netherlands Pavilion, located at the Sustainability District at Expo 2020 Dubai, will be open to visitors in six months, starting from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. The pavilion has a giant green food cone known as the ‘Biotope’ as the centre of attraction. The vertical farm is covered with edible plants and irrigated with the harvested water from the air using innovative Dutch technologies. With these high-tech advancements and more in offering, the pavilion aims to be a true platform for sustainability and circularity initiatives thereby, enabling visitors to experience the Netherlands’ expertise in uniting water, energy and food. Dutch businesses, knowledge institutions and civil society organisations have specific knowledge and proficiency in these fields and can therefore, play a key role in finding solutions that contribute to a more sustainable planet. Possessing a naturally controlled climate, the pavilion’s structure is constructed using locally sourced materials that will be recycled after Expo period, minimising its ecological footprint.

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