While the pavilions for Expo 2020 Dubai are currently under various stages of construction, three monumental gateways to the 1,083-acre fair site are now among the first elements to be completed. Built using a woven carbon fiber composite, the three 70-foot-tall, freestanding “gateway” structures are both incredibly lightweight without compromising durability or requiring any additional support, lending them an ethereal quality under the Arabian sun. The installations’ delicate infrastructure is the product of over three years of collaboration between London-based architecture firm Asif Khan Ltd., a manufacturer specializing in carbon composites, and an aircraft engineer. Their intricate patterning was engineered to not only strike a balance between material efficiency, shading, airflow, manufacturing time, and structural strength but to also reference the mashrabiya, an ornamental window type used in homes across the region to extend beyond their property lines. The combination of vernacular aesthetics and technological ingenuity reflects the spirit of Dubai’s inaugural expo, which seeks to remind attendants that while the city has gained international recognition in the last half-century, it also has hundreds of years of culture on display as well. During the 173 days of the event, guests will enter through 34-foot-tall operable doorways to enter each of the three Expo 2020 districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. “The portals will be the first and last encountering moment for all who make the journey to Expo 2020 Dubai,” Asif Khan said in a press statement, "and these capture the very transcendental moment the region is experiencing as it hosts its first World Expo—the celebration not only of UAE’s heritage, but also the future." The structures are the first pieces unveiled from Asif Khans commission for Expo 2020 Public Realm, a 3.7-mile linear park that will also include a running track and seating co-designed with Lara Captan. “Designing the Public Realm for Expo 2020 Dubai is a seminal moment for my practice,” Khan added. “Each aspect of the design invites visitors to immerse themselves in shared Islamic culture, art and language in dialogue with the future spirit of Expo.” Of course, Asif Khan is no stranger to designing otherworldly temporary installations; the firm’s Vantablack-coated pavilion, resembling a slice of outer space, turned heads when it touched down in Seoul for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Expo 2020 will open its doors to the public on October 20 and will remain open until Apr 10, 2021.
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Long before the telephone, the airplane, and the internet, the original World’s Fair was created in 1851 as a method of presenting the achievements of all the world’s nations in a single setting. Countless modern accomplishments—among them, the telephone, the Ferris wheel, the dishwasher, and even the Eiffel Tower—have all debuted at various World’s Fairs hosted by prominent cities around the globe. And though international communication has dramatically improved since its inception, the World’s Fair lives on as the “World Expo”—a multi-acre exhibition for which countries around the world create pavilions emblematic of their respective cultures and exemplary building techniques. Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates that has gained international standing in the last half-century and has since maintained one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The expo master plan, designed by American design, architecture, engineering, and urban planning firm HOK, will host 190 pavilions across 1,083 acres between the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and will be divided into three themed districts: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. While the majority of the pavilions have had their designs already approved and are currently in the construction phase, the Fentress Architects-designed U.S.A. pavilion has recently met financial troubles, leaving some of its features up in the air; Arabian Business reported that the UAE stepped in last week to help with necessary funding. AN has rounded up a selection of the most striking, interesting, or technologically advanced pavilions that will go on display when Expo 2020 opens on October 20: Austria—Querkraft Architekten
The 47 truncated cones of the Austria Pavilion will be constructed using 9,000-year-old-soil to demonstrate the country’s application of traditional techniques to contemporary challenges. The cones will be arranged to naturally ventilate the exhibition space and Viennese-style coffeehouse contained within as an alternative to the air conditioning technology commonly used throughout the UAE. They will have the added effect of animating the exhibition floor in a pattern of light and shadow as the sun moves overhead.Bahrain—Christian Kerez Swiss architect Christian Kerez has designed a 21,000-square-foot pavilion for Bahrain with an imposing facade that sharply contrasts the interior, which will host live weaving stations and an open exhibition space. The roof will be supported by 187 evenly dispersed columns—each less than two inches thick—that recall the country’s weaving tradition on a massive scale. Set to be completed within a nine-month timeframe, Kerez told News of Bahrain last December that the pavilion “is quite complex, though it looks very simple, [and] at the moment we have three different international companies working together to make this project a success.” Belgium—Assar Architects and Vincent Callebaut Architectures The architects of Belgium’s pavilion describe it as a “green ark”—both for its wooden boat-like design and its goal of producing more energy than it consumes during the duration of the expo. Multiple green spaces throughout the building will be supported by smart technology programmed to efficiently grow the produce that will feed the pavilion's visitors. While the pavilion will exhibit Belgium’s various innovations over the centuries, the country’s world-famous culinary history is the main attraction. Brazil—JPG.ARQ, MMBB, and Ben-Avid The Brazil Pavilion recreates the feeling of exploring the Amazon basin using an expansive body of water enclosed by a lightweight tensile structure. Visitors can traverse the atmospheric interior either by using a black concrete path or walking through the shallow water to get up close to the sounds, scents, and sights (via images and videos projected onto the ceiling) of the Brazilian riverside. The water has the added effect of naturally cooling the main exhibition space as well as the enclosed multipurpose room on the upper floor. Finland—JKMM The Finland-based architecture firm JKMM is blending the climatic aesthetics of its native Scandinavia with those of Saudi Arabia to produce an Arabic-style tent that appears to be made of snow. Before interacting with its main exhibition space, visitors will pass through the pavilion’s slender entrance to enter a ‘gorge,’ a curved wooden space reminiscent of a Finnish forest. The light wooden elements of the gorge will contrast the rough brushed concrete of the exhibition space, which will highlight Finland’s contributions to sustainable technology and health science. Germany—LAVA and facts and fiction As a country long dedicated to energy technology, Germany will be represented by a multi-story building its architects liken to a campus to recall the “campus learning experience.” The building’s spaces will be loosely arranged under an amorphous roof encased in a translucent ETFE membrane, recalling the engineering feats of German architects Frei Otto and Konrad Wachsmann. The pavilion will guide visitors through its major exhibition spaces—The Energy Lab, The Future City Lab, and The Biodiversity Lab—using wearable devices uniquely designed for the space. Morocco—OUALALOU + CHOI Following their design for the Morocco Pavilion at the 2015 Expo held in Milan, OUALALOU + CHOI return with an adobe brick building inspired by the ancestral construction techniques commonly found throughout Moroccan villages. The firm’s design attempts to recreate the experience of the country, rather than its iconic aesthetics, by tying the pavilion’s galleries together with a continuous ramp that recalls the narrow and dynamic streets of the Moroccan medinas. The Netherlands—V8 Architects The pavilion representing the Netherlands is, according to its architects, “more a biotope than a building.” With an enormous, cone-shaped vertical farm at its center, the pavilion will maintain a relatively low temperature thanks to a passive cooling system. The design of the interior recalls both Dutch landscapes and the traditional geometric patterns of Arabic culture. The entire space will be constructed using locally sourced materials that will all be reused within the region following the Expo’s closure.
With Expo 2020 Dubai only one year away, we are at a crisis point to create a world-class pavilion to represent the best of the American people at the first World Expo in the Middle East. Architecturally brilliant US pavilions had been globally admired during America’s Cold War foreign policy efforts. As an architect and documentary filmmaker who filmed America's abandonment of World’s Fairs through poor architectural design efforts in Face of a Nation, it is vitally important for me to share how a disintegration we’ve ignored for decades negatively impacts our American image abroad and endangers our hopeful vision of democracy. The story of our U.S.A pavilion captures the commercialization of our national interests. The defunding and abolition of a strategic part of our foreign policy, the United States Information Agency (USIA), in 1999 marked the end of design excellence as a tenet of representing the American people at important public diplomacy events. Our research documents the failures of when privatization totally takes over our public interests. Why is federal funding necessary for design excellence? Other countries demonstrate that they know the value of these events by paying for their own pavilions. Despite Reagan’s promise for “the energy and genius of the American people” at Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain, Congress blocked funds for the U.S.A Pavilion and we axed our American architect. The State Department scrambled to find “two exhibit buildings in moth-balls” for a makeshift pavilion the Spanish press maligned as “the American bra.” But architects know this message is most profoundly delivered through architecture. Congress eliminated the USIA (responsible for U.S.A. Pavilions overseas) in 1999 after we thought we had won the Cold War—ending public-sector support and beginning the battle of ‘who should pay.’ Debacles at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo and 2015 Milan World Expo are evidence enough that pure private-sector funding is a recipe for trouble. Shanghai’s U.S. Pavilion locked visitors inside and wasn’t even designed by an American architect! The richest country in the world didn’t raise enough to pay for Milan’s U.S. Pavilion, so the American companies who created it suffered significant financial losses. Diminishing World’s Fairs as “just trade fairs” and lauding public-private sector partnerships, the federal government has forced the private money to pay for our international exhibitions for the last 25 years. But public-private partnerships only work when the public sector pays as well. Other countries believe World’s Fairs are more than “just trade fairs,” with an important public diplomacy role, by engaging people around the world. More than 60 years after the USIA’s founding principles were defined "to understand, inform and influence foreign publics" about American ideas and values, our practice appears to be antagonizing the world instead. Rather than “winning hearts and minds” with face-to-face communication in “the last 3 feet,” our generation is tweeting, chatting, or cyber-bullying each other over thousands of miles. Most people don’t know the potency of our senses in the brick and mortar world. Architects use design excellence to kindle the viewer's emotions; a powerful persuasion without words. Innovative design captures futuristic visions of hope, effecting optimism and industry for generations to come. Awe-inspiring examples of the power of World’s Fair architecture influencing people for hundreds of years include the Crystal Palace and the Eiffel Tower. Our film follows the late Jack Masey, a U.S. foreign service officer/behind-the-scenes genius whose vision shaped the most innovative U.S.A. Pavilions from USIA’s early years. These pavilions inspired nations with a better idea about who we are as a people; including the setting for the 1959 Kitchen Debate, Buckminster Fuller’s Expo ’67 geodesic dome (inspiring Disney’s Epcot), and Davis Brody’s Expo ’70 air-inflatable—the largest in the world, where the Apollo 11 moon rock was shown. By the late 20th Century, U.S. trade interests had unconsciously projected a corporate, consumer image of American values and culture. The 21st Century saw the development of the internet, social media, and new digital platforms for people to communicate in cyberspace. These realms convinced many that international gatherings like World’s Fairs were costly, wasteful, and obsolete. No one anticipated they might become “virtual spaces” to spread false narratives about America. Going to the World’s Fair with design excellence is not only a chance to defend our American image in “real space,” but an opportunity to engage the world in the wonder we inspired when we did things right. American design excellence must be used to deflect the attempts to diminish our democracy. We must tell our story better to the world. It took a bipartisan Congress to underestimate the importance of design. It will take bipartisan Congressional support to fund and fix it. Special appropriations through Congress were essential to do things right during the Cold War, and federal funds are critical again to safeguard our vision of democracy. Because architecture reflects who we are. If we ignore what we see, we lose sight of our own vision. What keeps our dream alive? Going to the World’s Fair with our best American design talent might make all the difference. Mina Chow, AIA, is a documentary filmmaker, founder and principal of mc² SPACES, and an adjunct associate professor at the USC School of Architecture.
Not content with only 13 supertall towers, including Santiago Calatrava’s 3,000-plus-foot-tall Dubai Creek Tower, the state-owned Dubai Holding has revealed plans for the 1,804-foot-tall Burj Jumeira. The split-volume tower, which will feature a large void between its two curvilinear masses (resembling an elongated take on Zaha Hadid Architects’ Macau Hotel), will erupt from a pond emblazoned with the fingerprint of Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The Burj Jumeira, not to be confused with the nearby Burj Al Arab Jumeirah hotel, will be springing up in a new mixed-use neighborhood in Dubai’s Al Sufouh area. “Downtown Jumeira” will hold a mix of residential, office, and commercial buildings, hotels, an amphitheater, space for artists and cultural events, and, judging from the video released by the Dubai Media Office, a fountain inside the fingerprint pool. The tower itself, whose design was reportedly inspired by shifting sand dunes, will be wrapped in an enormous digital screen capable of lighting up the entire building. A sky lounge and restaurant will round out the 360-degree observation deck planned at 1,476 feet up, and the tower is expected to be a major draw for tourists. The reveal comes before the World Expo 2020 Dubai, as the United Arab Emirates city ramps up its architecture bona fides, an effort that created the world’s largest picture frame. Work on the Burj Jumeira began on January 31, the same day it was announced, and Dubai Holding expects the first phase of the project to be complete in 2023. No cost projection has been released yet, but the New York office of SOM will handle the tower's design and engineering, as well as the development of the Downtown Jumeira master plan.
Colorado's Fentress Architects has released a first look at the U.S.’s pavilion for the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, revealing renderings of its mobility-themed, coliseum-like installation. Under a theme of “What Moves You? The Spirit of Mobility,” Fentress and partners from the U.S. State Department, George P. Johnson Experiential Marketing (which is designing the pavilion’s “experiences”), and various public and private partners from the United Arab Emirates revealed the pavilion’s final design on November 28, 2018. The cylindrical National Pavilion will be set askew with structural slants to convey a sense of movement and wrapped in a dynamic facade that can double as a screen for American-themed background imagery. According to Curtis Fentress, a founding partner at Fentress Architects:
We’re looking at an Expo that is related to mobility, movement, travel, sustainability—things that are very important to the world today. We have designed this building to be circular in form with slants fashioned to project a sensation of movement, making the viewer feel like the building itself is in motion. And then, once you enter the building, it opens up to what the United States stands for: We are an open, accessible country where you can live to create ideas. It showcases all the things we are doing in America: developing technology and concepts that are going to move us forward in the future. Designing this pavilion is a tremendous responsibility—one we take very seriously—as we will be showcasing America and American ideas to over 25 million people expected to visit the Expo.Pavilion USA 2020, the collective entity responsible for the installation, also announced a partnership with the California-based Virgin Hyperloop One. Come 2020, the pavilion will host mock-ups of Virgin’s hyperloop pods and offer simulated rides ahead of a projected 2021 rollout in as-of-yet unfinalized locations. The three-story pavilion will feature an internal walkway wound around a central internal void and multi-media column that will double as a triple-height public plaza. The programming will explore a range of what “movement” can mean, from space travel, to shipping cargo, to tracking the flow of blood throughout a body. The Dubai 2020 Expo will open to the public on October 20, 2020, and run through April 10, 2021.
Fentress Architects will design the United States of America’s pavilion at World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The winning design is based on the theme “What Moves You,” and will emphasize, “the power and diversity of culture, technological innovation in mobility, and commercial opportunity throughout the United States,” according to a statement from Pavilion USA 2020. Fentress’s design will play into the “dynamism of American culture,” and national values of “ingenuity, progress, and innovation.” The renderings from Fentress are yet to be released. “Working across the U.S. has given Fentress Architects diverse perspective on the attributes and attitudes that Americans share. We will coalesce these characteristics into a single architectural expression at World Expo 2020 Dubai, representing the entirety of the U.S. and its design prowess to an international audience,” said Curtis Fentress, principal in charge of design at Colorado-based Fentress Architects. The Fentress-designed pavilion will work with large and small firms from across the U.S., local citizens' groups from different states, and the U.S. and U.A.E. governments to tell a story about the U.S.’s role on the global stage. The exhibit and experience design will be curated by Michigan-based George P. Johnson Experience Marketing (GPJ). Dubai Expo will be held between October 20, 2020, and April 10, 2021, near Dubai emirate’s western border with Abu Dhabi emirate. American firm HOK is responsible for its master plan. The U.A.E. selected the theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” and the sub-themes Sustainability, Mobility, and Opportunity. It is expected to draw over 25 million visitors to the city and be a major economic event. The Bureau International des Expositions is the organizing body behind the shows, which are held intermittently around the world, most recently in Milan in 2015 and Shanghai in 2010. Previous expositions have been occasions for spectacular, sometimes experimental architecture, as in Buckminster Fuller's dome for Expo 1967 Montreal and Kenzo Tange's pavilion for Expo 1970 Osaka. The shows have historically been venues for industries of various nations to showcase their abilities and visions. Expo 2020 is the first world expo held in the Middle East, North Africa or South Asia. The preparation and operation of the fair are expected to result in 277,000 new jobs in the U.A.E. and inject $40 billion into the local economy. Check out this link for more details.
Dubai, seemingly the architectural playground of choice in recent times, was selected to host the 2020 World Expo three years ago. The event, which will last six months, will have the theme of "Connecting Minds, Creating Future." Not wanting to miss an opportunity to flaunt extravagant designs, Danish architect Bjarke Ingles and Brits Norman Foster and Nick Grimshaw have wasted no time jumping on the Dubai bandwagon. Their three firms, BIG, Foster + Partners and Grimshaw Architects have all received the green light to contribute pavilions touching on themes like mobility, sustainability, and opportunity. His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Expo Higher Committee in partnership with Emaar Properties, unveiled the winners of the competition this month. BIG will design the "Opportunity Pavilion" which showcases an extravagant undulating facade curved in three dimensions. The structure invites audiences in by revealing the central lobby and core of the pavilion which also houses an array of trees and plant life. Foster + Partners put forward their "Mobility Pavilion," which is equally outlandish and curvaceous. Foster reportedly drew on his experiences when master-planning Masdar City—a city in Abu Dhabi that will rely solely on renewable energy. Finally Grimshaw Architects' "Sustainability Pavilion" maintains the trend toward elliptical design, with a replica of a large solar collector. Usually seen in the desert, similar designs require a tower to focus the light onto the collector (and others in the vicinity). Here, the large disc, which is acutely curved to form a bowl, is surrounded by many smaller versions that stand freely around it. The three pavilions make up only a fraction of the 200 hectare site of the Expo, expected to open in four years.