Thirteen of the world’s leading architectural firms took part in a global competition, launched in July 2015 by leading developer Emaar Properties on behalf of Expo 2020.
The competition sought to identify the designs for the three theme pavilions – Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability, under the Expo’s 2020 theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.
Announcing Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of the Expo Higher Committee and Dubai Airports and Emirates Airline, said the pavilions and their iconic architecture are central to World Expos, and the three pavilions will be centrepieces that showcase the latest ideas, innovations and developments whilst providing the visitors with an immersive and memorable experience.
Lauding the winners, Sheikh Ahmed remarked:” The competition attracted a truly stellar line up of architectural firms that each put forward designs that impressed all those involved in the selection process. After careful study and consideration, three designs stood out, amidst tough competition, as great future structures that will mark our Expo as exceptional.”
“A key criterion for the competition was ensuring that the designs not only embodied one of Expo’s core themes, but also had the flexibility and longevity to live on as landmarks and functional structures after the Expo is complete in 2021,” he stated.
The winning design for the Opportunity Pavilion was submitted by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), a group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers based in Copenhagen and New York.
Their design philosophy reflects a belief that contemporary urban life is a result of the confluence of cultural exchange, global economic trends and communication technologies.
BIG are known for its innovative approach to architecture and are currently working on the design of a new headquarters for Google.
Foster + Partners submitted the winning proposal for the Mobility Pavilion. Their design drew on nearly four decades of pioneering designs including Dubai’s The Index building, and the masterplan for Masdar City.
The winning design for the Sustainability Pavilion, which will become a long term ‘cluster’ centre promoting innovative technologies, was submitted by Grimshaw Architects. The firm designed the Eden project in Cornwall, UK, and is a leader in the field of sustainable architecture.
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.
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.”
According to Sheikh Ahmed, the Expo 2020 would be a festival of human ingenuity. “We hope that the nations and organisations that take part in Expo, and the millions who visit, will explore the power of connections across the spheres of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.”
“Our theme pavilions will play a central role in bringing this to life,” he added.