top of page

Spotlight: Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, 2021 GRAY Awards Finalist

A closer look at Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, one of three finalists in the 2021 GRAY Awards Commercial Landscape category.

Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion

Landscape pavilion path in Dubai

Landscape design for Terra—The Sustainability Pavilion at Dubai EXPO 2020—marks a huge leap forward in establishing a new, sustainable form of landscape architecture in the Middle East. Featuring countless innovations and trials of new materials, the pavilion urges future designed landscapes to adopt and build upon these precedents. More than 100 'new' plant species were brought into cultivation as part of the landscape design, many being grown from seed collected in the United Arab Emerites' wadis, deserts, and mountains. The pavilion’s paving, another unique aspect of the project, incorporates recycled glass and waste materials from the metal smelting industry. This signature paving finish is visually striking, yet also highly sustainable. Meanwhile, bamboo composites are employed in lieu of hardwoods while the entire planting palette represents a huge step forward in the use of native and adaptive plants within a designed landscape.

Landscape pavilion path in Dubai

Eschewing use of concrete walls to retain the site’s significant level changes, the landscape designers instead employed gabion baskets filled with locally sourced rubble. This allows the retaining structures to not only contribute an earthy aesthetic, but hugely reduces the project’s carbon footprint.

The pavilion landscape is composed of a number of different zones, each delivering a particular aesthetic and message. Each zone is bound by a common flowing, undulating language which gradually focuses smaller tributaries and paths towards a main wadi path, which then descends towards the sunken entrance of the building. These flowing lines serve not only to enhance the narrative and aesthetic, but likewise guide the convergence of visitors towards the entrance of the pavilion itself. With a number of arching walls accentuating the undulating pathways, visitors can enjoy exploring spaces which are concealed, then revealed in an engaging sequence. Throughout the landscape, visitors learn about the flora, fauna and environment of the UAE through interpretations, sculptures, and messages.


Design Team:

desert INK


Photos Courtesy of desert INK

Date of Completion: 2020


Additional Landscape Design, Commercial finalists:


University of Cincinnati North Main Plaza

Check out the Quick List to see all of the 2021 GRAY Awards finalists!


2021 GRAY Awards Party Tickets NOW AVAILABLE

Join us for the year's most exciting design event!

DEC 10, 2021 | 7pm PST

The Westin Seattle

For more information and to purchase tickets:


Thank you to our Sponsors:


Subscribe to our e-newsletter to be the first to find out about upcoming GRAY Awards news!

For partner/sponsor info for upcoming GRAY Awards, write to us at


bottom of page