Dubai Wins Expo 2020


Dubai has been chosen as the site of the 2020 World Expo, which is expected to draw more than 25 million visitors from October 2020 through April 2021.

In 2012, Populous joined a design team led by HOK to develop the masterplan for the Expo in Dubai – themed “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”.

Chris Lee, Senior Principal and Director at Populous commented: ‘International and major sporting events bring global exposure to spectacular cities and to be truly successful you have to consider the impact right from the start. The site, the programme and the innovative design will make the Expo a unique and inspirational experience. At Populous, we are very proud to be part of the team designing the masterplan for the World Expo 2020, and I would like to congratulate Dubai and the Higher Committee on winning the bid to host Expo 2020.’

The plan looks to the future while paying homage to Emirati culture and heritage, and the design features three separate pavilions symbolizing opportunity, sustainability and mobility, with “innovation pods” and “best practice areas” in each thematic zone. These three zones emanate from a central plaza named the Al Wasl, a historical name for Dubai meaning “the connection”. Inspired by the layout of a traditional Arabic “souk,” or marketplace, the design places larger pavilions to the perimeter while clustering smaller exhibit spaces toward the centre of the site. This creates a smooth pedestrian flow while encouraging interaction among visitors.

The team planned the Expo site and infrastructure to create a new sustainable benchmark for events in the Middle East. An iconic photovoltaic fabric structure covers the main walkways, acting as a solar-powered sun shade and combining with photovoltaic panels on building facades to capture enough sunlight to generate at least half of the Expo’s energy requirements onsite. At night, the fabric will be transformed into an illuminated display of lights and digital projections. Smaller connective streets will be shaded through the use of pavilions and strategic landscaping. The alternative transportation plan includes a gondola that links each of the thematic zones and the main entrance while creating an additional viewing experience for visitors. Other sustainable strategies include recycling wastewater, reusing materials and monitoring the carbon footprint.

After the close of the Expo in 2021, three main pavilions – the Welcome Pavilion, the Innovation Pavilion and the UAE Pavilion – will be combined and transformed into the Museum of the Future.
To support the Dubai Expo 2020, the UAE is expected to award an estimated US$35 billion in construction and other supplier contracts in 2014. The Expo is the third-largest global event after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

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