Santiago Calatrava designs 'falcon in flight' pavilion for UAE at Dubai Expo

The 161,000-sf structure will be a centerpiece for the event, which is expected to draw more than 25 million visitors.

May 09, 2016 |
Santiago Calatrava designs falcon pavilion for UAE at Dubai Expo

Santiago Calatrava's UAE Pavilion. All renderings courtesy Santiago Calatrava. Click here to enlarge. 

In a competition of nine architecture firms and 11 submitted proposals, the United Arab Emirates selected Santiago Calatrava’s design for the UAE Pavilion at the Dubai World Expo 2020.

UAE officials felt that the structure, which features a series of wing-shaped exterior panels meant to look like a falcon in flight, best represented the expo’s theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” They also said the design has a distinct UAE feel and that it embodied the country’s past and future.

“The proposed design of the UAE Pavilion captures the story we want to tell the world about our nation,” UAE Minister of State Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said in a statement. “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 symbolize 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.”

The 161,000-sf pavilion will have exhibition areas, lounges, food and drink outlets, and an auditorium, and it is designed to meet LEED Platinum standards. 

The structure will be in the center of the 500-acre exhibition area. Held from October 2020 to April 2021, Dubai 2020 is a six-month architecture, innovation, and global culture fair that is expected to draw 25 million visitors and participants.

Calatrava has another connection with the city. Earlier this year, his Dubai Creek Harbour design was chosen in a competition of six proposals. The slender minaret-shaped tower is expected to be taller than the Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building, and is slated to be completed before Dubai 2020.

In March, three major firms designed other pavilions for the expo. BIG designed the Opportunity Pavilion, Foster+Partners submitted the winning Mobility Pavilion, and Grimshaw created the Sustainability Pavilion.


Santiago Calatrava’s UAE Pavilion. Click to enlarge.

Santiago Calatrava’s UAE Pavilion. Click to enlarge.

Santiago Calatrava’s UAE Pavilion. Click to enlarge.

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