The British Pavilion for Expo 2017 Astana

Interactive Yurt and 360-Degree Projection

Energy surrounds us everywhere. We focus it and pass it on. The slogan of the British Pavilion for Expo 2017 Astana is ‘We Are Energy'. It assembles visitors inside a precisely designed, interactive yurt, which is surrounded by a panorama. The whole installation is situated inside of one of the exhibition buildings for Expo 2017 Astana and has been designed by British Architect Asif Kahn. iart has been a partner in developing and realising the central yurt and the panorama.

Concentric Pavilion Structure

At the start, visitors enter a corridor. Its final point is marked by a video showing the sun and its choppy surface. All aspects of life are fed by the energy of this star, around which the planet Earth circles. This starting point establishes the formal principle of the exhibition: After entering the 2,200-square-meter exhibition hall, visitors are led in concentric circles towards the centre of the pavilion. They pass by a panorama consisting of twenty-two connected projections showing a landscape surrounded by changing weather. Then they enter the space inside the panorama and, after a couple of steps, enter the central, glowing yurt.

An Interactive Organism

The yurt is constructed of two hundred radially arranged spokes of acrylic glass. They reach a height of four metres. Since they are nearly transparent and there is open space between the spokes, visitors can glimpse inside and even through the yurt. A soft touch on the inside of the spokes suffices to illuminate them. Even a gentle approach activates light-emitting diodes on the spokes' bases. In a split second, light is emitted upwards and illuminates the spokes to the top. After a few moments, the light fades. So visitors are surrounded by a manifold play of light, which they can shape individually and which is framed by the changing atmospheres of the panorama. The architectonical body and the collective of visitors are connected in a process of organic interaction.

An Idea of Future

The moving image of the sun at the pavilions entrance already evoked the idea that all energy floats around a centre which slowly changes over time. In the British Pavilion for Expo 2017 Astana, the human body enters in a playful dialogue with the surrounding sculpture of light. At times, this pavilion seems to be almost immaterial and shines in ever-moving lights. While the shape of the yurt evokes the tradition of nomadic life, the materials used and the interactive solutions developed by iart suggest how we might interact with our environment in the future.

Exhibition Site

Astana Expo 2017

Project Phases

Conception, Planning, Realisation and Operation

Project Duration

1 year


10 June 2017

Exhibition Duration

4 months