The last major element in the design of the Expo 2020 Dubai site was unveiled last week. Al Wasl Plaza is an open space that combines breathtaking design, innovative technology and an intricate domed trellis incorporating a huge immersive projection experience.

The plaza will be a unique space at the centre of the 4.38-square kilometre site that will make a dramatic impression on the millions of people visiting Expo 2020 Dubai from around the world.

As the last major design element of the site in Dubai South to be announced, Al Wasl Plaza will be developed alongside the other locations, such as the themed pavilions, at the site, which is on track for the scheduled date of October 2019 for all heavy construction work to be finished.

Al Wasl, which is 150 metres in diameter, was designed to have not only the ‘wow factor’ but also to be a central hub during Expo and beyond, bringing people of all backgrounds together to ‘Connect Minds’, a key ambition of the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region.

It will connect the three thematic districts – Opportunity, Sustainability and Mobility – as well as the other main concourses, including the Dubai Metro link and the UAE Pavilion, through its seven entrances and exits.

Al Wasl is not only the historical name for Dubai but also means ‘connection’ in Arabic, so reflects both Dubai’s goal of bringing people together at the Expo and the plaza’s physical location at the heart of the site.

Expo 2020 Dubai worked with world-renowned Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG) on the design of the space after the firm beat competition from some of the biggest names in the industry to win the contract. Adrian Smith was design partner on the team that designed Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. The design was viewed and approved by the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee.

The plaza will be topped by a 65 metre-high domed trellis inspired by the shape of the Expo 2020 Dubai logo. The trellis will act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface.

As the dome is translucent, the projection will be visible to both those inside and out. The numerous other features of the plaza include restaurants, fountains and parks.

The design of the plaza uses techniques to calibrate the temperature under the trellis with that outside, ensuring a comfortable environment.

Gordon Gill, Design Partner at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, said: “Expo 2020 Dubai will be an exceptional, unmissable and breathtaking global destination, and we feel Al Wasl Plaza embodies that vision.

“We are creating a space that will be an architectural landmark not just for the six months of Expo but long into the future.

“We want Al Wasl Plaza, with its cutting-edge design, to inspire not just our generation but many generations to come.”

The plaza will be home to events throughout Expo 2020 Dubai, while after the Expo finishes in 2021, it will also play a central role – literally and metaphorically – in its legacy.

It will be a focal point for development in the area, with plans to convert the surrounding buildings of 10 to 13 storeys for hotels and commercial use, complementing the entire mixed-use legacy of the Expo site.

The location will also further strengthen Dubai’s already thriving events scene, having been designed to be adapted to host experiences of all sizes and purposes, whether it be a small, intimate event or a large gathering of up to 10,000 people, such as National Day celebrations.


Expo 2020 Dubai will open its doors on 20 October, 2020 and will end on 10 April, 2021. It will be a festival for all, where everyone can learn, innovate, create progress and have fun by sharing ideas and working together.


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