Dubai is preparing to welcome the world for Expo 2020, and the gates through which those guests will enter have now been revealed.
The latest construction work to be completed at the Expo 2020 site includes three towering entry portals, designed in collaboration with British architect Asif Khan. The intricately woven structures are inspired by the traditional mashrabiya, a common element in Arabian architecture, designed to let in light and air.
Standing at 21 metres high – taller than a six-storey building – each structure features two 10-metre-wide doors that will be opened every morning during Expo 2020 to symbolically welcome the world.
“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."
Adding to the innovative design history of world expos, the structures are made from strands of ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre composite that allow them to stand without any additional support. The portals have taken three years to develop, and are the first element to be revealed from Khan’s design of Expo 2020’s Public Realm, which is made up of more than six kilometres of walkable areas across the site.
“We cannot wait to open our doors to the world on October 20, 2020," says Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer at Expo 2020. "The Expo Entry Portals will provide a wonderful way to welcome millions of people from across the globe to The World’s Greatest Show, giving a first taste of the amazing architecture and groundbreaking innovation they will experience all around the site."
With just over 250 days to go until Expo 2020 starts, new drone footage of the site and Al Wasl Plaza has been released. The stunning plaza will act as the heart of the Expo 2020 site, connecting the three main zones of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability — the central themes of the fair.
Translating to "connection" in English, Al Wasl is also the historical name for Dubai. The steel trellis is the centrepiece of the site, where all roads meet, and reflects Expo's aim to bring people together.
Thousands of visitors will congregate at the plaza, which is near the falcon-wing-inspired UAE pavilion, Dubai Metro and the seven entrances and exits to the world fair.
The 360-degree dome will be the main staging area for the opening ceremony on October 20. It will also host performances, concerts and events throughout the six-month expo before staging the closing ceremony.