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Asif Khan

The portals capture this transcendental moment


Three huge entry gateways for Expo 2020 Dubai, designed by Asif Khan, will welcome visitors onto the site from 20 October, with a futuristic exploration of the traditional mashrabiya.

Mashrabiyas are a type of decorative, projecting window often used to control light and airflow that are typically found in Arabic residences.

Khan's Expo Entry Portals, which are part of his wider work on the Expo's public realm, are said to be inspired by the aesthetic of the region and are the result of a three-year iterative design process working with a specialist manufacturer.

The self-supporting portals are woven entirely from strands of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre composite, the strength of which allows for dimensions of 21m (69ft) high and 30m (98ft) long.

The woven composition of the structures only becomes apparent in close proximity, while from further away it is suggested they appear to be composed of translucent panels.

Its geometric pattern provides not only structural strength but also material efficiency, wind permeability, shading and also speed of manufacturing.

The portals feature two large doors each measuring 21m (69ft) high and 10m (34ft) wide that will open every morning of the 173 days of Expo 2020 Dubai "in a symbolic act of welcoming the world."

Khan's work on the wider public realm will see the creation of a 6km (4mi) linear park alongside a running track, walking paths of soft and hard materials and places to rest.

Khan said: "The portals will be the first and last encountering moment for all who make the journey to Expo 2020 Dubai, and these capture the very transcendental moment the region is experiencing as it hosts its first World Expo – the celebration not only of UAE’s heritage, but also the future.

"Designing the public realm for Expo 2020 Dubai is a seminal moment for my practice; each aspect of the design invites visitors to immerse themselves in shared Islamic culture, art and language in dialogue with the future spirit of Expo. As visitors explore the many facets of the public realm designs, from the Expo Entry Portals to the seating I made with Lara Captan, I hope it leaves them with an unforgettable sense and experience of place."

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