Calatrava to design UAE Dubai Expo 2020 pavilion


Santiago Calatrava’s falcon in flight-inspired design has been selected by the UAE government for its pavilion at the Dubai World Expo 2020.

Calatrava’s proposal was formally selected by National Media Council following a seven-month design competition managed by Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, in its capacity as programme manager.

The contest saw nine of the world’s most renowned architectural firms submit 11 concepts, said the council in its statement.


Each design was evaluated against specific criteria, including how fully the design expressed the main theme of Expo 2020 “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and how well it captured a distinct Emirati feel and a balance between the UAE’s past and future.

Located facing the Al Wasl Plaza, which lies at the centre of the 200-hectare exhibition zone, the Swiss-Spanish architect’s  design will represent the UAE to the 25 million visitors and participants from over 180 nations who are expected to visit the Expo from October 2020 to April 2021.

Calatrava has also been chosen to design a new tower for Dibai Creek which could be taller than the Burj Khalifa. In November last year, the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design had awarded Calatrava the 2015 European Prize for Architecture.

Minister of State and National Media Council chairman Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said: “The proposed design of the UAE Pavilion captures the story we want to tell the world about our nation. Our late founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan used falconry expeditions to forge connections between tribes and to create a distinct national identity which ultimately led to the founding of the UAE.

“Now, the falcon design will symbolise how we are connecting the UAE to the minds of the world and how as a global community we can soar to new heights through partnership and cooperation.”

Minister of State for International Co-operation and director general of the event Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy said the pavilion will be one of the Expo’s central features

“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 UAE pavilion will become an important cornerstone in our site and will have a legacy plan that will reflect our hopes and ambitions for the many years to come,” he added.

On the win, Calatrava said: “I am deeply honoured that our practice has been chosen to design the national pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020, a project of national and global significance. I am confident that the final design will be a symbol of the bold and daring spirit of the UAE, reflected in what is poised to be the most inclusive and global Expo in history.”

The pavilion is expected to cover up to 15,000m2 and will include numerous exhibition areas, an auditorium, food and beverage outlets and VIP lounges. It will be designed to embrace sustainable building principles.

Masdar CEO Mohamed Al Ramahi said: “We will capitalise on our experience of developing Masdar City, which is on a journey to being the most sustainable urban development in the world, to ensure the delivery of an innovative, high-performance pavilion and community space that embraces the Expo’s themes of mobility, opportunity and sustainability.”

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