Stained Glass-Style Solar Panels to Top Dutch Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

The designer, Marjan van Aubel, imagines a future where all homes will generate energy.
Chris Young

Designer Marjan van Aubel has designed a set of stained glass-style translucent solar panels that will be mounted onto the roof of the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The design for the panels, made out of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, was guided by the principle that attractive sustainable technology is the best way to effect change.


Changing perspectives at Expo 2020

Van Aubel's solar panels can simultaneously generate solar power and let tinted daylight pass through.

"They're beautiful and relevant," Marjan van Aubel told Dezeen in a live interview. "It will really change perspectives".

Source: Courtesy of Marjan van Aubel/ V8 architecten

After having teased her project for several days, it was revealed this week that Van Aubel's high-tech, colorful panels will be a key attraction of the Dutch Biotope pavilion for this year's Dubai Expo 2020 — which has been postponed to October 2021 because of COVID-19.

Thinking about the circularity of solar panels

As Van Aubel explains on her website, the roof will get a second life after the Expo 2020 Dubai, "therefore we designed and developed it in such a way that it is easily taken apart and can be re-used/assembled again."

"Especially with solar panels, we have to think about circularity," Van Aubel told Dezeen. "Because their lifespan is 40 years, maybe 50 years, and then there's no way to recycle them."

Source: Courtesy of Marjan van Aubel/ V8 architecten

Van Aubel has been developing the solar panels for several years. They use light-absorbing organic dyes that cover tiny particles of titanium dioxide nanomaterial to turn sunlight into electricity. What's more, the solar cells are flexible and can be applied to a translucent surface like a sticker.

Source: Courtesy of Marjan van Aubel/ V8 architecten

The Dutch Biotope will not only be a showcase for futuristic examples of sustainable design and technology — the space will also act as a self-sustaining microclimate with a tower of plants taking up a large part of the space, and will be made from natural materials that will be recycled or reused after the event.

What are Van Aubel's ambitions beyond the Dubai Expo? "In the future, I hope a house will be [considered] broken if it doesn't generate energy," she told Dezeen. That truly is a fresh perspective on renewable energy and sustainability.