Fly over the Expo 2020 site in Dubai and you will see something remarkable, as the final piece of the landmark Al Wasl Plaza dome has been put in place.
More than 800 engineers and workers toiled throughout the night to complete the feat.
Eighteen hydraulic jacks, aided by steel lifting ropes, lifted the 22.5 metre-wide steel crown into place. It weighs 550 tonnes and had to be placed on top of the dome with a margin of error of only three millimetres.
Al Wasl Plaza is the heart of the Expo site and the building’s completion has now moved a vital step closer.
Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Expo Dubai 2020 Higher Committee, hailed the moment as a major landmark for the event.
“Al Wasl dome will take a lasting place at the very summit of our country’s world-renowned architectural achievements,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “My heartfelt congratulations go to everyone involved in successfully completing this amazing engineering feat.”
The task was completed at the weekend and is the culmination of 14 months work. The crown will now be permanently welded to the rest of the distinctive steel trellis of the 65-metre tall dome.
The steel for the trellis was sourced from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, while it was shaped into its flowing curves by companies in Belgium, Germany and Spain before being moulded into its intricate latticing in Italy.
Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer of Expo 2020, said it was the most exhilarating moment of his career.
“Crowning Al Wasl dome was both incredibly exciting and one of the most challenging engineering operations in the world,” he said.
“Lifting such a large and heavy structure involved a huge number of variables. Something as simple as a shift in direction of the wind or change in air temperature could have had a big impact on our calculations, so constant monitoring and reassessment was essential throughout the process.”
Now the steel structure will be transformed into an immersive 360-degree projection surface.
Expo 2020 runs from October 2020 to April 2021 and millions of people are expected to visit.