Santiago Calatrava has won the competition to design the United Arab Emirates Pavilion for the Dubai World Expo in 2020. Nine finalists submitted 11 concepts that were evaluated on three criteria: their expression of Expo’s theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” whether the design was evocative of the UAE, and if a balance was struck between the country’s past and future. Calatrava’s design proposes a 15,000 square meter pavilion with exhibition areas, an auditorium, food and beverage outlets, and VIP lounges. The design is meant to evoke the wings of a falcon in flight, linking itself to the country’s history of falconry to emphasize the country’s present day goals of global connectedness.
“The proposed design of the UAE Pavilion captures the story we want to tell the world about our nation,” said UAE Minister of State and National Media Council Chairman H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. “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 United Arab Emirates. Now, the falcon design will symbolize 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.”
Designed to LEED Platinum specifications, Calatrava’s pavilion was selected by the National Media Council of the United Arab Emirates in a competition overseen by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company and the Expo program manager. Situated at the heart of the 500-acre exhibition site, the pavilion will be seen by 25 million visitors expected at the event between October 2020 and April 2021. The Expo will feature architecture, culture, and innovation, with participants from 180 countries, multilateral organizations, corporations, and educational institutions.
According to Santiago Calatrava, “I am deeply honored that our firm will have the opportunity to design the national pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020, a project with national and global significance. The final design will be a symbol of the UAE’s bold and daring spirit, reflected in what is poised to be the most inclusive and global Expo in history.”