Expo 2020 Dubai: Pavilions near completion as 4-month countdown to world fair begins

Construction work is complete on many structures at the Dubai South site as the emirate prepares to welcome visitors

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Engineers are supervising final structural work on pavilions at the Expo 2020 Dubai site as the four-month countdown to the world fair begins.

When doors open on October 1, visitors will have access to dozens of pavilions in the three districts – each with their own unique design features.

At the Luxembourg pavilion, which twists like a metal ribbon, people will be able to whizz down a slide instead of taking two flights of stairs. Visitors to the Netherlands pavilion will walk into an edible vertical farm to watch oyster mushrooms sprout in a display of food security innovations.

The National has created an interactive map to help visitors navigate some experiences they can expect across the 4.38km sq expo site.

A first glance at the map reveals standout designs dotted across the site, from Al Wasl Plaza dome, the world's biggest projection screen, to the UAE's falcon-wing pavilion, which sits not far from the Saudi pavilion – a six-storey windowed structure that opens up to the sky.

With months to go before the world fair opens, thousands of workers are busy welding and fitting out structures in preparation for a grand opening.

More than 100,000 tourists and residents have already had a sneak peek of the site, when they toured the Sustainability Pavilion – also known as Terra – that opened in January for a limited preview.

Marjan Faraidooni, chief experience officer at Expo 2020, told The National, how architects, engineers and exhibition designers have brought to life pavilions that aim to inspire and educate people.

“I hope that many more families come with their children when the expo opens its doors,” she said.

The team has received cheery responses from visitors so far.

“The feedback I received from families touched me the most, when their kids tell them that this is the best place that they've ever been to. It's really something that I cherish and hold very close to my heart,” she said.

Ms Faraidooni was part of the creative concept process and witnessed initial ideas for the Mobility and Sustainability pavilions, from six years ago, take shape.

“To see something that started out as a sketch and to have been part of this process, right from the beginning, is an absolute honour and a blessing. I find myself very lucky to be right now in a position where I actually drive to site and I see this magnetic structure alive,” she said.

“It's very emotional. It's nothing short of really being honoured to have been part of it, part of the team and to shepherd it to what it is today.”

This pride was evident during a site visit by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai in April.

He said the Expo aimed to “dazzle the world” during a period of unprecedented challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sheikh Hamdan also spoke of the readiness to host “the most exceptional edition of the show in the mega global event’s 168-year history."

Organisers have scheduled programmes throughout the 182 days that the expo, which will be the first in the region, will be held.

Architects were challenged to come up with unique ideas to inspire visitors to rethink ways they can help protect and conserve the planet.

Several pavilions will use natural climate control strategies instead of air conditioning and will be put to the test in the desert heat.

Carlo Ratti, architect of the Italian pavilion and head of Carlo Ratti Associati, designed an unusual reusable roof with fellow architect Italo Roti.

Three massive upturned boat hulls now cap the Italian pavilion and will go on to be used to sail once expo ends on March 31, 2022.

“The boats have become the roofs of the pavilion and will sail after the Expo. That is really the core of the principle of circularity,” he said.

“We are showing how innovation, sustainability and circularity can work, where everything is reused and nothing is thrown away. That has been our aim.”