Calligraphy-inspired benches to showcase Arabic script on the Expo 2020 site

The benches will 'wrap the Expo site like a poem'

This bench reads 'al tawasal', which translates to 'communication' in English. Courtesy Expo 2020
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The Arabic written word will be showcased at the Expo 2020 site, thanks to a collection of calligraphy-inspired benches that will wrap the grounds "like a poem".

Each functional design spells out a "meaningful word in Arabic script", and will offer visitors a place to sit while visiting Expo 2020.

They have been designed by British architect Asif Khan, in collaboration with Lebanese typographer Lara Captan, who lives in Amsterdam. The word choices were "crowd-sourced" on social media, and also contributed to by a workshop of 30 young Emirati professionals.

Khan says of the benches: "[These] words wrap the Expo site like a poem."

"The hundreds of social media users who contributed inspired ideas weren’t aware of the final purpose of their suggestions – until now (which gives potential for social media engagement with those who participated)," a representative for Expo 2020 said in statement. "The suggested words were workshopped with a panel of young Emiratis who selected the final words and discussed their meaning and where they should be located on the site."

The word choices have been considered to reflect the districts they will be placed in and even the material they are made from. The spokesperson explains: "The word for ‘vision’ is transparent, and the bench for the word ‘dream’ is actually a series of hammocks."

Each of the benches will be accompanied by a plaque that explains its meaning and has information about the word choice. They will also be featured on a range of Expo 2020 apparel.

Khan is also the architect behind the three entry portals unveiled last week, the first element to be revealed from his design of Expo 2020's Public Realm, which is made up of more than six kilometres of walkable areas across the site.

“The portals are the first thing you see as you approach the site, so they are a landmark at the beginning and end of your journey at Expo 2020,” says Khan. “I would like visitors to Expo, especially children, to be inspired by architecture they have never seen before, and to be excited that it is part of the heritage of the region. Passing through the doors represents a physical and symbolic act of moving from the past into the future."