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Work starts on Calatrava's Dubai 2020 Expo pavilion inspired by falcon in flight

The foundations have been laid for Santiago Calatrava’s showpiece UAE Pavilion for the Dubai World Expo in 2020.

Inspired by a falcon in flight, the four-storey structure will represent the nation to the 25 million visitors expected to attend the architecture festival, which is themed ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Displays will showcase the country’s culture, history and development plans.

Located in the centre of Dubai’s 200-hectare exhibition zone, the pavilion will be spread across an area of more than 15,000sq m (161,500sq ft). The top floor will be dedicated to hospitality, a mezzanine floor will house support units and the two remaining levels will consist of more than 12,000sq m (129,000sq ft) of exhibition space.

The entire structure is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. It is being built by national firm Arabtec Construction, which recently delivered Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.

Calatrava won the project last year after being selected ahead of eight other firms in a seven-month international design competition. He took inspiration from the falconry expeditions said to be held by the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to forge connections between tribes and create the national identity which ultimately led to the founding of the country.

Speaking after helping to break ground on the project, the chair of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said: “The UAE Pavilion will undoubtedly be one of the most prominent attractions of Expo 2020, drawing in many millions to witness its futuristic design.

“It will be a wonderful opportunity to share our Emirati culture and achievements while showcasing our ambitious vision for the future. It will be an architectural marvel that all seven emirates can rightly take pride in, both now at the ground-breaking stage, during the Expo, and in legacy, when it will become a lasting icon of our nation.”

A host of big-name architects will have their work showcased at the Dubai Expo, which will run from October 2020 to April 2021. Foster + Partners, BIG and Grimshaw will design the event’s three main pavilions following a separate high-profile design competition.

Meanwhile, Calatrava’s studio are expanding their presence in the UAE, and have been commissioned to design The Tower – a mixed-use structure in Dubai that will be taller than the Burj Khalifa.

Santiago Calatrava  Dubai Expo 2020  architecture  design  UAE 
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The foundations have been laid for Santiago Calatrava’s showpiece UAE Pavilion for the Dubai World Expo in 2020. Inspired by a falcon in flight, the four-storey structure will represent the nation to the 25 million visitors expected to attend the architecture festival, which is themed ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’. Displays will showcase the country’s culture, history and development plans. Located in the centre of Dubai’s 200-hectare exhibition zone, the
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Calatrava took inspiration from the falconry expeditions said to be held by the UAE’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan / Wam
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Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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