Santiago Calatrava tops UAE Pavilion at Dubai Expo with 28 opening wings

By Tom Ravenscroft for Dezeen


Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava has created a pavilion informed by the shape of a falcon's wing for the UAE at the Dubai Expo 2020, which opens today.

Designed "as a symbol of the UAE's pioneering spirit", the host nation's pavilion stands near the centre of the expo site alongside the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill-designed central Al Wasl Plaza.

Santiago Calatrava designed the UAE Pavilion at Dubai Expo

"The UAE Pavilion was designed to embody the main theme of Expo 2020 Connecting Minds, Creating the Future and serve as a symbol of the UAE’s pioneering spirit," Calatrava's office told Dezeen.

"Located in the Opportunity District of Expo 2020 Dubai, every aspect of the pavilion is representative of the host country, from the building's architecture, which resembles a falcon, the UAE’s national bird, to the surrounding landscape."

The roof closes down to shelter the solar panels

The four-storey pavilion was informed "by a falcon in flight" and is topped by a series of locally produced carbon fiber "wings" that can be closed to shelter the roof solar panels.

Each of the wings pivots around a single point and the entire roof can be opened in three minutes.

The wings are made of locally produced carbon fiber

"The conceptual framework was based on inspiration from the grace and force of a falcon, the UAE's national bird," said Calatrava's studio.

"By channelling the powers of mobility, synchronized flow, and technological innovation, the relationship between architectural spaces and structural systems fuse together to create connections that connect the overall space with the main theme of Expo 2020."

A sphere-shaped auditorium is at the centre of the pavilion

At the centre of the 15,000-square-meter pavilion is a sphere-shaped void that serves as an auditorium with a capacity of 200.

It is surrounded by a multi-level gathering space, which is topped with a circular skylight that incorporates the Expo 2020 logo.

Within the rest of the pavilion are a series of immersive exhibits dedicated to both the history and future of the country.

The space is topped by a roof light that looks like Dubai Expo logo

"The UAE Pavilion offers visitors an opportunity to explore the history and future of the United Arab Emirates – from its origins to its thriving present and its visionary future," the studio continued.

"We hope that visitors see it as a testament to the passion and dedication of the people of the UAE, serving as a reminder of the values of the nation, its resilience, and boundless future."

In line with Expo 2020's theme of sustainability the pavilion was certified LEED Platinum and is compliant with the Dubai Green Building Regulations and Specifications (DGBR).

It is surrounded by landscaping containing 80 trees and over 5,600 plants, of which 2,350 are "considered to be of cultural importance to the UAE".

The pavilion was designed as a space for gathering

The Dubai Expo is the latest World Expo – an international exhibition designed to  showcase architecture and innovation. The six-month event will see contributions from 180 countries and is expected to attract around 10 million visitors.

Calatrava also designed the Qatar Pavilion at the Expo, while the UK Pavilion is a timber structure with a facade that contains AI-written poems.

Photography is by Palladium Photodesign / Oliver Schuh + Barbara Burg, courtesy of Santiago Calatrava.

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