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Santiago Calatrava hot streak continues with bird-inspired UAE pavilion for Dubai 2020 Expo

Santiago Calatrava will design a pavilion inspired by a falcon in flight for the Dubai World Expo 2020.

The National Media Council of the United Arab Emirates has selected the Swiss-Spanish architect to create its expo showpiece, which will represent the nation to the 25 million visitors expected to attend the architecture festival.

Calatrava’s wing-shaped structure is expected to cover up to 15,000sq m (161,500sq dt) in the centre of Dubai’s 200-hectare exhibition zone. It will include numerous exhibition areas, an auditorium, food and beverage outlets and VIP lounges, and is expected to meet LEED Platinum sustainable building standards.

Calatrava’s design was chosen ahead of 11 rival concepts following a seven-month international design competition. Each design was evaluated according to how it balances the UAE’s past and future and how fully it expresses the expo’s theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.

“The proposed design of the UAE Pavilion captures the story we want to tell the world about our nation,” said National Media Council chairman H.E. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. “Our late founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, used falconry expeditions to forge connections between tribes and to create a distinct national identity which ultimately led to the founding of the United Arab Emirates.

“Now, the falcon design will symbolise how we are connecting the UAE to the minds of the world and how as a global community we can soar to new heights through partnership and cooperation."

Reflecting on his appointment, a “deeply honoured” Calatrava said: “I am confident that the final design will be a symbol of the bold and daring spirit of the UAE, reflected in what is poised to be the most inclusive and global Expo in history.”

The pavilion project will be managed by Abu Dhabi renewable energy company Masdar, who are currently developing a sustainable green urban development called Masdar City in the emirate. A budget has not yet been revealed.

A host of big-name architects are expected to 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.

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.

2016 is shaping into a highly successful year for Calatrava, who has also seen the openings of his Oculus in New York and Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro. In October he will receive a lifetime achievement award at the 2016 LEAF International conference in London.

Santiago Calatrava  Dubai Expo 2020  UAE  pavilion  architecture  design 
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Santiago Calatrava will design a pavilion inspired by a falcon in flight for the Dubai World Expo 2020. The National Media Council of the United Arab Emirates has selected the Swiss-Spanish architect to create its expo showpiece, which will represent the nation to the 25 million visitors expected to attend the architecture festival. Calatrava’s wing-shaped structure is expected to cover up to 15,000sq m (161,500sq dt) in the centre of
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Santiago Calatrava's pavilion is inspired by the wings of a falcon, a national symbol of the UAE / Santiago Calatrava
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