Grand Designs

    The last few weeks have seen a host of revelations regarding Dubai Expo 2020
    The Dubai Expo 2020 site will cover 438 hectares.
    The Dubai Expo 2020 site will cover 438 hectares.


    On a 438 hectare site, connected to three international airports and a dedicated transport network, Dubai Expo 2020 will provide millions of international visitors with the chance to see spectacular architecture, merge with global cultures, examine thought-provoking exhibitions, and taste food from across the globe. Above all, visitors to the six-month long event will witness the very latest in thinking and technology all in one place and at one time.

    While the Expo may still be some time away, excitement for the mega-event is building fast — particularly as more and more details about what we can expect are being released on an almost weekly basis.

    The most recent revelation was the approved designs for three of the pavilions that form a major part of the site. And the first glimpse inside one of the key Expo 2020 buildings was revealed at the Arab Media Forum in May, with a short augmented reality video (also posted on Twitter) giving the clearest insight yet into the Opportunity Pavilion — one of three themed pavilions in the Jebel Ali project.

    Following a long-running international architecture competition, it was announced back in March that companies from Denmark and the UK had been selected for the three key pillars; Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

    The three pavilions will form centrepieces of the two square kilometre Expo site, surrounding the central Al Wasl meeting plaza, the figurative and literal heart of Expo 2020. All winning designs must be designed with flexibility and longevity in mind to ensure the site continues as a landmark after the event has finished in 2021.

    Following the announcement of the winning architectural firms, His Excellency Mohamed Alabbar, Expo Higher Committee member and chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “The winning theme pavilion designs further build on the UAE and Dubai’s proven record in iconic architectural design, particularly when considering their long-term functionality, sustainability and contribution to Expo 2020’s legacy and Dubai’s long-term development.”


    Danish company Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), based in New York, can count the Google headquarters on its list of previous achievements. Its ‘Opportunity Pavilion’ is said to be ‘influenced by a belief that contemporary urban life is shaped by a confluence of cultural exchange, global economic trends and communication technology’. The facility is built around the premise of ‘unlocking new possibilities for people and communities to become successful contributors to the future’.


    London-based practice Foster & Partners — already well known within the UAE market for its work on the under-construction Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, Masdar City, and Brookfield Place in Dubai — submitted the winning proposal for the Mobility Pavilion. Its imposing three-hub venue is built with ‘creating smarter and more productive physical and virtual connections’ at the heart.


    The ‘Sustainability Pavilion’ will be brought to life by the same brains behind Britain’s iconic Eden Project. Eco-architects Grimshaw are behind the green facility, an area packed with innovative sustainable energy drivers. The slogan, ‘pursuing our hopes of progress without compromising the needs of future generations’, provides a powerful message.

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