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Expo 2020 Dubai: The Mobility District to connect people, goods and ideas

The thematic district at the Expo will feature a Mobility Pavilion by Foster + Partners, UAE Pavilion by Santiago Calatrava, and 10 other pavilions of countries like Belgium and Finland.

by Meghna Mehta Oct 28, 2019

The World Expo is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years, and lasting for six months. World Expos are unrivalled among international events in their size, scale, duration and the number of visitors. The first World Expo was London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. They are large-scale platforms for education and progress that serve as a bridge between governments, companies, international organisations and citizens.

It is a festival for all, where everyone can learn, innovate, create progress and have fun by sharing ideas and working together. Each Expo revolves around its own theme to leave a lasting impact on the path of human progress. Buildings and products first revealed at World Expos include the Eiffel Tower, the Seattle Space Needle, the typewriter, the television, and even Heinz Tomato Ketchup. Founded in 1928, the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation that regulates and oversees World Expos, preserving the core values of education, innovation and cooperation, on behalf of its 170 member states.

World Expos are also required to adhere to a wide universal theme. For Expo 2020 Dubai, the concept is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. The participating nations and organisations, and the millions of people visiting, will explore the power of connections through the districts built across three sub-themes - Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The Expo will be held from October 20, 2020 - April 10, 2021.

Mobility as a theme attempts towards creating smarter and more productive movement of people, goods and ideas, both physically and virtually. An entire district named after this sub-theme would have 11 pavilions dedicated to the following countries - Belgium, Finland, France, Korea, Oman, Peru, Poland, Russia, Turkmenistan, Thailand and UAE. The pavilions are being designed by their respective country’s architect.  

The Mobility Pavilion

The thematic pavilion has been designed by London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners. The design addresses how people, goods, ideas and data move (and what it all means) to proceed through the past, present and future of movement, from ancient exploration to artificial intelligence. The journey begins with the world’s largest elevating platform, which takes the visitor to the House of Wisdom, based in ninth-century Baghdad, and then moves to meet nine-metre-tall historical giants of ‘Mobility’. Visitors will experience a leap forward in time to enter a virtual world brimming with data, until they step into the city of tomorrow. One may even be served by a robot or drone waiter along the way. 

  • The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
    The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai, designed by Foster + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai
  • The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
    The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai, designed by Foster + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai
  • The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
    The Mobility Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai, designed by Foster + Partners Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

COUNTRY PAVILIONS

The Belgium Pavilion

The design of this pavilion by Assar Architects and Vincent Callebaut Architectures, based on the theme ‘Smart and Green Belgium 2050’, attempts to explore Belgium's 'green ark', which is home to a host of innovations. The Belgium Pavilion will draw on renewable resources to feed its energy needs, smart technologies to feed its plants, and the country’s world-class cuisine to feed its guests. Covered in lush greenery, the ark-inspired pavilion is designed to produce more energy than it consumes. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with a host of Belgian innovations while treating themselves to some of the nation’s tastiest culinary specialties, including its world-famous fries, known as frietjes.

The Belgium Pavilion by Assar Architects and Vincent Callebaut Architectures at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Belgium Pavilion by Assar Architects and Vincent Callebaut Architectures at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Finland Pavilion

At the Finland Pavilion, designed by architecture firm JKMM, visitors will discover the country’s natural beauty and knack for innovation. Resembling an Arabic tent made of snow, the pavilion designed on the theme ‘Sharing Innovative Competences’ aims to bring together the country’s icy landscapes with the culture of Expo 2020’s host nation. Inside the 'Snow Cape', the pavilion would offer a haven full of surprises. Finland will showcase its many areas of excellence, from education and sustainable technologies to health and well-being, as well as the natural beauty that attracts travellers from around the world.

The Finland Pavilion by architecture firm JKMM at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Finland Pavilion by architecture firm JKMM at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The France Pavilion

Designed by Atelier du Prado Architectes and Celnikier & Grabli, the French pavilion on the theme 'Light, Lights' would showcase the nation’s cultural riches and its dedication to sustainability. The pavilion explores light as an enabler of progress, a vehicle for connections, and a source of heat and creativity. It seeks to embody the Age of Enlightenment, the 18th century movement spearheaded by French intellectuals that emphasised concepts such as knowledge exchange and tolerance.

The France Pavilion by Atelier du Prado Architectes and Celnikier & Grabli at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The France Pavilion by Atelier du Prado Architectes and Celnikier & Grabli at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Republic of Korea Pavilion

Here, the design is intended for the visitor to discover the nation’s plans to lead humanity towards a brighter tomorrow. Designed by Mooyuki Architects, a future-facing experience will attempt to wow visitors at the Republic of Korea Pavilion, whose design will constantly change through the innovative use of rotating cubes. The structure will explore the ways that mobility is set to change our lives, as well as featuring the best of Korean art, style and technology. The nation’s modern culture, including its world-famous K-pop music, will also be on show.

The Republic of Korea Pavilion by Mooyuki architects at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Republic of Korea Pavilion by Mooyuki architects at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Oman Pavilion

The Oman Pavilion designed by Adi Architecture, based on the theme ‘Oman – Opportunities over Time’, is designed to make one traverse thousands of years of Omani progress and international collaboration. Oman’s ‘gift to the world’, frankincense has played a vital and varied role in the nation’s development from ancient times to the present day. The Oman Pavilion pays tribute to this precious resin, with its exterior resembling the tree that produces frankincense. In the interiors, there are five zones detailing the diverse ways in which frankincense has benefited Oman – spanning everything from medicine to food to cosmetics.

The Oman Pavilion by Adi Architecture at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Oman Pavilion by Adi Architecture at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Peru Pavilion

The pavilion designed by Habitare on the theme ‘Timeless, always Peru’, attempts to make the visitor embark on a journey of unique emotions and experiences. Peru’s cultural diversity, infinite wealth and ancient wisdom are the greatest protagonists that still surprise the world and will help humanity to build a better future. Visitors will be able to try the best experiential gastronomy in the world, based on Peruvian superfoods that are changing humanity’s future, and enjoy a sensory experience through one of the cradles of mankind and one of the most bio diverse countries in the world.

The Peru Pavilion by Habitare at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Peru Pavilion by Habitare at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Poland Pavilion

Delving into Poland’s deep-rooted ties with the modern world the pavilion has been designed on the theme ‘Creativity inspired by nature’ by architecture firm WXCA. Centrally located in Europe, Poland perfectly embodies the Expo 2020 subtheme of Mobility, be it in the form of cultural dialogue, commercial exports or social migration. The tree-like structure, and thousands of ‘migrating’ paper birds hovering throughout the wooden pavilion (which references the large-scale migration of birds from Poland to the Arab world), explores the nation's diverse global connections, as well as its role as a leading producer of goods.

The Poland Pavilion by architecture firm WXCA at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Poland Pavilion by architecture firm WXCA at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Russia Pavilion

The Russia Pavilion designed by Tchoban SPEECH, Simpateka Entertainment Group offers visitors a chance to see what future minds will be able to achieve. How do we find our places in the world? How can we better understand each other despite our differences? How will we connect people and minds without moving them physically? The Russia pavilion will help visitors to answer these questions and give them an insight into how the country sees the future. Showcasing Russia’s extensive knowledge in various fields, the pavilion will take visitors to the next level, where they will be able to experience the possibilities of tomorrow and also enjoy a wide range of modern Russian cuisines.

The Russia Pavilion by architecture firm Tchoban SPEECH and Simpateka Entertainment Group at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Russia Pavilion by architecture firm Tchoban SPEECH and Simpateka Entertainment Group at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Thailand Pavilion

The Thailand Pavilion designed by Index Creative Village Experience, focuses on the theme ‘Mobility for the future’. Covered on the outside by a curtain of 500-plus woven artificial flowers, the Thailand Pavilion will present the nation’s warm hospitality and its capabilities in digital innovation and technology. Visitors can share their own flower engravings within the pavilion’s garden, and discover more about the nation’s creative advances in the fields of transportation, logistics, digital connectivity and personal mobility. There will also be an art exhibition entitled ‘The Miracle of Smiles’.

The Thailand Pavilion by Index Creative Village at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Thailand Pavilion by Index Creative Village at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The Turkmenistan Pavilion

At the Turkmenistan pavilion based on the theme ‘Power of five’, designed by Tekmil architects, a fountain sculpture featuring five Akhal-Teke horses and a 50m LED façade will greet visitors. Native to Turkmenistan and symbolising national pride, the horses will play a prominent role in providing an experience that promises to immerse the senses. The 360-degree imagery of five horses will be projected onto the walls, reflecting the movement of people within the pavilion and accompanying visitors through an interactive three-sided hologram. The journey will guide visitors from a colourful visual show to a space that highlights the nation’s agricultural connections via elements representing wheat, cotton and wind – with a digital ‘crop’ moving and growing as it responds to touch. The pavilion will also showcase Turkmenistan’s heritage and modern achievements, alongside its spiritual dimensions, development priorities, international ties and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Turkmenistan Pavilion by Tekmil Architects at the Expo 2020 Duba| Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020| Dubai| STIRworld
The Turkmenistan Pavilion by Tekmil Architects at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

The UAE Pavilion

The UAE Pavilion, designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, introduces the world to the nation’s rich culture and bright future. Designed in the shape of a falcon in flight, this pavilion will be a major attraction at the Expo 2020. The structure will narrate the history of the nation as a connected global hub, and the vision of its leaders to create a peaceful and progressive society with ambitious plans for the future. The pavilion will be four storeys tall, and cover a total area of 15,000 sqm. There will be a dedicated hospitality space on the top floor, and exhibitions will showcase Emirati culture and achievements throughout.

The UAE Pavilion by Santiago Calatrava at the Expo 2020 Dubai | Mobility | Pavilion | Expo 2020
The UAE Pavilion by Santiago Calatrava at the Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Courtesy of Expo 2020 Dubai

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About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

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