Dubai Wins Expo 2020 Bid with HOK-Designed Master Plan

Dubai has been selected as the host city for the Expo 2020, besting bids from Turkey, Brazil and Russia. This means HOK will now move forward as a lead designer by refining the site's 438-hectare master plan, which was inspired by Dubai’s “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” Expo theme.

"This win is a testament to the commitment of the UAE citizens to create a prosperous future for their country and region," said Daniel Hajjar, HOK's managing principal in Dubai. "We are proud to have been the lead designer of the Expo site and to be associated with producing a winning entry for the UAE so that this great country can continue to boost its reputation on a global stage."

More than 25 million is expected to attend during the Expo’s short, six-month duration. This will be the first time a Middle Eastern city to host this international exhibition in its 160-year history. Read on for more details on HOK's design.

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Courtesy of HOK

The 1,082-acre (438-hectare) site, located next to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and in close proximity to Jebel Ali Port, will feature three thematic pavilions - the Welcome Pavilion, the Innovation Pavilion and the UAE Pavilion - symbolizing “opportunity, sustainability, and mobility.” These three zones will be centered around a central plaza dubbed “Al Wasl” - a historic Arabic name for Dubai meaning “the connection.”

Per traditional “souk” (marketplace) design, the master plan’s layout will place the larger pavilions on the perimeter, leaving space at the center for smaller exhibit spaces. This is believed to encourage interaction amongst visitors, while optimizing pedestrian circulation.

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Courtesy of HOK

The site’s more “iconic” feature will be a large, blanket-like structure made of photovoltaics. Not only will this structure provide ample amounts of shade along the site’s main walkways, but it will also generate at least half of the energy required for the Expo. 

Once the event concludes in 2021, the three main pavilions will be combined and transformed into a National Museum to celebrate the achievements of the Expo. 

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Courtesy of HOK

The HOK-designed master plan was made possible with the help of Populous, which provided venue planning and participant design guidelines, and Arup, who provided infrastructure and transportation services.

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Cite: Karissa Rosenfield. "Dubai Wins Expo 2020 Bid with HOK-Designed Master Plan" 04 Dec 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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