November 27, 2013, was a day of joyous celebration across the UAE as the country won the bid to host Expo 2020. From being the first World Expo to be held in the MEASA region to having the highest ever country participation (192) in the history of Expos – Expo 2020 is home to many firsts.
As the host country, UAE is leaving no stone unturned to curate a stunning event. With an intention to share their inclusive vision, transformative ideas, and pioneering spirit, UAE is creating an experience that would stay unforgettable in the world’s eyes.
When the Expo kicked off on October 1, 2021, the world marveled at the visionary treat that the Expo site presented. The UAE pavilion, spread over 15,000 sq.m., is an extraordinary icon that received much admiration. From concept, design to completion, the UAE pavilion is an exemplary example of a well-envisaged vision.
Behind the Pavilion Design
Being an important icon of the host nation, the UAE pavilion’s design reflects the theme of Expo 2020 (“Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”) and the UAE’s distinct culture. It was finalized after a design competition that spanned over seven months and had participation from the world’s leading architecture firms. The competition concluded with the Swiss-Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s proposal gaining the honour.
The pavilion design is inspired by the UAE’s national bird, Falcon. Mr Calatrava describes the design to be symbolic of the UAE’s bold and daring spirit. The four-storeyed pavilion resembles a “falcon in flight” and encapsulates the country’s history of falconry and the journey of unifying several small desert communities under a national identity.
The words of H.E. Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, put this across clearly: “The design will evoke the pioneering spirit and power of connections that transformed the UAE from a collection of small, desert communities, into a global connection point.”
The pavilion design also adheres to the sustainability theme of Expo 2020 and is LEED Platinum certified. The structure is also compliant with Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications (DGBR). Moreover, the surrounding landscape contains 80 trees and over 5,600 plants to ensure a biophilic environment is maintained.
The Stunning Architectural Features
From an architectural standpoint, the 15,000 sq.m. pavilion is nothing short of a wonder. The four-story pavilion has exhibition spaces, VIP lounges, cafe areas, and an auditorium. In one word, the UAE pavilion can be described as futuristic. Carefully curated lines and spaces that blend into one another create a visual treat for the visitor’s eyes.
To actualize the pavilion’s central theme of “falcon in flight”, the roof is designed in the shape of wings that portrays the flow of movement. There are 28 wings, made of carbon fibre, and these wings rotate around a single point. The wings’ movement is fueled by hydraulic actuators. The entire roof can be opened in three minutes by opening the wings. The roof structure is integrated with photovoltaic panels that absorb sunlight when the wings are open. When they are closed, the structure protects these panels from rain and sandstorm.
Integrated within the roof of the UAE pavilion is another architectural feature, the Oculus skylight. It is designed like the Expo 2020 logo and is located at a height of 27.8 meters. It provides natural light inside the pavilion space. Moreover, it is conceived in such a way that in case of accidental fires, the grills surrounding the Oculus will open.
At the center of the pavilion is a sphere-shaped space, which is an auditorium. The auditorium can house 200 people and has a lifting platform. The platform, which supports the seating, can move and transport the audience between different floors.
The design’s focus on sustainability cannot be left unmentioned as it reflects throughout the structure, in every architectural element. The architect, Santiago Calatrava made clear his views on this aspect with the words “We are committed to ensuring that the leading practices of environmental sustainability are embedded at the heart of the design process. Accordingly, the UAE Pavilion is energy-conscious and integrates a range of elements and qualities of sustainable design, ensuring the longevity of the structure, to withstand the test of time.”
To get a more thorough understanding of the architectural features of the UAE pavilion we have discussed, take a look at this video.
Post Expo 2020
When Expo 2020 comes to a close on March 31, 2021, the UAE government will transform the Expo site into District 2020. District 2020 will be a smart and sustainable city- a model global community for the future. 80% of Expo-built infrastructure will be reused for District 2020. The UAE pavilion, one of the best pavilions of Expo 2020 Dubai will become a cultural Centre of the country. Post Expo 2020, the pavilion will thus play a key role in upholding the Emirati culture. The architecture marvel will live on and remain a symbol of sustainability and connectivity in the years to come.
Featured Image is sourced from: https://www.expo2020dubai.com/