It is finally revealed that Dubai has been chosen to host the 2020 World Expo. HOK, teamed with Populous and Arup, has developed the master plan for the expo and more then 25 million visitors are expected to be drawn from October 2020 through April 2021. The plan is futuristic but it also pays homage to Emirati heritage and culture. Dubai will become the first Middle Eastern city to host this event in its 150-year long history.
HOK’s plan reflects great qualities of the city and the form and spirit of a World Expo, with its mixture of education, innovation and entertainment. The site is on the southwestern edge of Dubai in Jebel Ali, near Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport and Jebel Ali Port.
The design features three separate pavilions which symbolize opportunity, sustainability and mobility, with “innovation pods” and “best practice areas” in each thematic zone. Three zones emanate from a central plaza, which acts as a connection. Inspired by the layout of a traditional Arabic “souk,” or marketplace, the design places larger pavilions to the perimeter while clustering smaller exhibit spaces toward the center of the site. This creates a smooth pedestrian flow while encouraging interaction among visitors.
The aim was to create a sustainable benchmark for events in the Middle East. An iconic photovoltaic fabric structure covers the main walkways, acting as a solar-powered sun shade and combining with photovoltaic panels on building facades to capture enough sunlight to generate at least half of the Expo’s energy requirements onsite. Recycling waste water, reusing materials and monitoring the Expo’s carbon footprint are other employed sustainable strategies.
HOK has beaten Zaha Hadid’s rival proposal for a lagoon-side park in the Turkish city of Izmir.