Innovative i-Mesh fabric takes shape at Expo 2020 Dubai

The construction and textile industries are among the most targeted industries for waste production, toxins and carbon emissions. Innovation in both areas is moving towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable focus. Recently unveiled at Expo 2020 Dubai, i-Mesh is an artistic and creative approach to dealing with hot climates as in the Middle East.

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i-Mesh is a lightweight, breathable material made in Italy. The new fabric is the product of a startup company of the same name. For the Dubai Expo, designer Werner Sobek used the materials to build an attractive and functional canopy that creates a barrier between land and sky in the main fairways.

Related: Reclaimed wood raft features a papier-mâché canopy

The canopy folds back to reveal the open sky

Although it is a texture, it is nicknamed soft architecture. Stronger than regular fabrics, they will withstand sunlight, wind, and even sandstorms. The structure at Expo 2020 Dubai is the largest retractable canopy ever built thanks to the innovative i-Mesh material.

Curtains look from above, covering the landscape

“Shadow structures in Dubai perfectly embody the combination of lightweight construction, innovation and design we seek in all our projects,” said Werner Sobeck.

Close-up of the woven texture and the way it folds easily

While the i-Mesh allows natural light to pass through during the day, it reflects heat to provide respite on hot days. At night, the fabric turns into a display by illuminating distinctive patterns on a material called mashrabiya, a latticework traditionally used in Arab country architecture.

Woven canopy with light filtering through

Developed as an architectural material designed to meet a variety of weather-related conditions, i-Mesh’s mission is to offer customization and waste reduction. The production method limits cutting waste to 3% compared to standard textile waste of 25%. The company notes that the i-Mesh can be removed, stored, and reinstalled indefinitely, to gain an advantage over disposable materials. However, at the end of life, the material is recyclable. According to the website, “The material consists of only two components: fiber and resin. Resin has a thermoplastic origin, so both components can be separated and reused.”

A woven canopy stretched over the porch

This is the first time that an application has been awarded to a startup in an Expo project.

+ Werner Sobeck

Images via Werner Sobek

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