Dezeen Magazine

UK Pavilion for Astana Expo by Asif Khan/Brian Eno

Asif Khan and Brian Eno collaborate on energy-themed pavilion for Kazakhstan expo

British architect Asif Khan and musician Brian Eno have unveiled their design for the UK Pavilion at the Astana Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan, which will explore the origins of energy.

UK Pavilion for Astana Expo by Asif Khan/Brian Eno

Using a combination of sound and animation, the UK Pavilion named We Are Energy will look at the creation of energy, beginning with the origins of the universe almost 14 billion years ago and culminating with present-day energy production.

Designed by Khan for the Astana Expo 2017, which will use Future Energy as its theme, the pavilion seeks to promote sustainable energy sources and technologies.

"The universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago," said Khan. "At that moment all energy and matter was in the same place at the same time. The idea that everything, including life on earth, is comprised of this archaic energy is fascinating to me."

"I wanted to find a way to express this relationship to our visitors and explore how energy is being continually harnessed and balanced around us," he added.

Catherine Heymans, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh, developed the scientific timeline for the pavilion.

The pavilion will be divided up into sections to represent the "expansion of the universe", "human ingenuity, landscape and nature" and "UK innovation".

Eno, who rose to fame in the 1970s, has composed a soundscape to accompany the different areas. It will begin with a single note at the entrance and the section investigating the creation of the universe, before expanding into a multi-tonal piece that narrates the portion of the exhibition exploring human invention.

The continuous sound piece follows the release of Eno's "infinite" album titled Reflection earlier this year.

An huge cylindrical screen will form the centrepiece of the exhibition, showing a computer-generated simulation of the world. The 360-degree screen will wrap an illuminated structure in its centre, which is inspired by human ingenuity.

The UK Pavilion will sit within the masterplan that Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture has created for the Expo.

The American studio saw off competition from Zaha Hadid Architects, UNStudio, Snøhetta and Safdie Architects to win the bid for the 173-hectare site in Kazakhstan's capital.

Over 100 countries are expected to take part in the Astana Expo Future Energy, which runs from 10 June until 10 September 2017.

Project credits:

Design: Asif Khan
Music: Brian Eno
Creative agency: KBW Design
Design management: WOO
Structural engineer: AKT II
Services engineer: Atelier Ten
Installation, interactive engineering and fabrication: iart
Digital landscape art direction: Xavier Chassaing
Digital landscape: VFX, Martin Aufinger, Chris Bore
Science advisor: Catherine Heymans
UK timeline animations: Factory Fifteen
Build contractor: Nussli