Expo 2020: architecture and design at the center of the world’s largest exhibition


ome of the world’s most iconic buildings and monuments were designed and built specifically for World Expos. Many of them have become the symbol of the city in which they were built. For example, it is difficult to think of Paris without imagining the Eiffel Tower, centerpiece of the Universal Exhibition of 1889, precursor of the Universal Exhibitions.

In this sense, Expo 2020 Dubai will be remembered for its architectural richness which is at the heart of the new smart city of the future. However, the architects also point to Expo’s lasting impact on the construction industry.

Riad Bsaibes, President and CEO of Amana Investments, the leading regional design-build contractor that partnered in the construction of the much-loved Canada Pavilion, said, “Historically, construction has been delayed by compared to other sectors in terms of productivity. But new technologies are triggering a transformation in this traditionally slow-to-innovate sector.

By taking advantage of the emerging growth trends of modular construction in its pavilions, Expo 2020 showcased large-scale disruption underway.

According to Bsaibes, Expo 2020 has shown that the large-scale use of pre-engineered prefinished volumetric construction (or PPVC) is the answer to today’s needs. “In PPVC, building components are first fabricated in an off-site factory and then shipped to site for erection and completion. Up to 80% of construction can be moved offsite to the factory. This significantly reduces waste compared to an open construction site, potentially reducing material waste by up to 30%. A less wasteful society should be everyone’s goal and modular construction helps bring much needed circularity to the construction industry. The end products are easily movable, which further allows the customer to move and move in sync with market demands. We will see this in action, when some of the Expo pavilions are moved or recycled.

Unique and inspiring construction solutions

While experts opine that the Expo 2020 pavilions presented incredible design possibilities, the fact remains that construction is all about translating marvelous visions into built reality.

Jason English, Ecosystem Director at CG Tech, which is behind Expo 2020’s two main stages – the Jubilee Stage and Dubai’s Millennium Amphitheatre, said: “Expo 2020 has highlighted various styles of construction, with an emphasis on sustainability, and all built – by design – to be demountable. For example, the entire Sweden pavilion was constructed from natural trees and woods, while that Korea had rotating blocks that changed color as well as the appearance of the building. Other pavilions, such as that of the United Arab Emirates, featured unique designs that represent the country through symbols. The three arches of entrance were fabricated from an intricate web of carbon fiber structures, again presenting new and unique ways to create towering and memorable entrances to the event.

According to English, the construction and design technology used by Expo 2020 will become the norm. “Many of the pavilions at Expo will have inspired new ways of creating, such as draping effects and the use of natural lighting. Some structures such as the Jubilee Stage and the Millennium Amphitheater in Dubai, which we built, were designed to be temporary installations. They had to look and act like permanent items, with the ability to be removable. »

Similarly, for the Canada pavilion, Amana applied several sustainable design best practices. After the Expo, the Canadian pavilion material will be recycled or reused locally for future projects. Most of the pavilion finishes were recycled content, polished concrete flooring (recyclable content) and interior finishes in gypsum walls, among others.

Expo 2020 has shown that modular construction is also an ideal solution to overcome the problem of labor shortage. “Modular buildings can be constructed in 50-75% of the time of a conventional site-built project of comparable size,” Bsaibes explains.

Expo 2020 provided the perfect opportunity for architects and designers to learn about cutting-edge technologies from around the world and apply them to solve large-scale problems.

Fabidha Safar Rahman, founder of Design Matter, an award-winning design firm with projects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India, looks at the changes brought about by Expo 2020 in a holistic way.

“There have been several visible changes since Expo 2020 – such as the attention given to urban development, pedestrian spaces and green spaces,” says Rahman. “The sudden surge of NFT around the world and its growth and promotion in the UAE during this year’s art season; encourage the use of bicycles; and something as simple as reducing bottled water consumption.

Expo 2020 has also given a boost to BMS (building management solutions), according to Alan George, who manages bespoke, residential and hospitality projects at Orange Design Group, and the founder of the aForm podcast show. of architecture and design focused on the GCC.

“BMS is part of the design industry, but its use has been quite two-dimensional,” he says. “However, the Expo really shows how smart data can be harnessed with minimal intervention. This in turn can be processed through artificial intelligence, magically giving rise to new patterns and opportunities. examples of this were seen at various scales in Expo pavilions.

Expo 2020 Dubai remains a classic study for architects and designers. As George concludes: “It would be a challenge to find an architect or designer in the city who has not been impressed by Expo 2020. Its scale is inspiring. It was truly a snapshot of the global macro design community. There was something to inspire everyone connected with architecture and design.


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