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Ocean of Light

UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, 2018

Architect: Tonkin Liu
Client: Department for International Trade
Location: Dubai, UAE
Size: 3,700 m²
Structural Engineer: Arup
Sustainability Engineer: Integration
Lighting Design: SEAM Design
Cost Consultant: Turner & Townsend

Inspired by the ocean’s global and microscopic scales, the Ocean of Light  is a participatory artwork that is a single entity emblematic of our ocean, celebrating the beauty of mass movement. 

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Imagine you’re looking at a vast desert People moving in every direction over the hot land

Scanning across you see an Ocean floating in the sky Above the Ocean a crowd beckons the crowd below

The Ocean surfaces ripples with cool air and sound Inside the Ocean you discover a swirling infinite blue space

People move in depth mirrored far above and far below The Ocean makes everyone tiny and connects everyone together 

521 0 Moving People Ocean Hall Plan

The design has been a response to the Dubai 2020 of “connecting minds, creating the future,” and specifically for the UK, “Global Britain, innovating for a shared future.” In the blue Great Ocean Hall, shaded by its gently rippling blue rope façade, eight pillars of light transport visitors upwards, passing through and rising above other visitors gathered in the hall.

The Ocean of Light suspends visitors in a mirrored vertical infinity, momentarily transporting them into the tiny scale of plankton in a dynamic, connected collective. 

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Tonkin Liu leads a close-knit team with Arup, Integration, Natural History Museum, Seam Design, Turner and Townsend, Squint Opera, and construction advisers from Stage One, Expomobilia, and TÜV SÜD Dunbar Boardman. 

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521 114 Third Floor Blue
521 113 Second Floor Mezz Blue
521 112 Second Floor Blue
521 111 First Floor Blue
521 110 Ground Floor Blue