santiago calatrava announces the completion of the UAE and qatar pavilions at expo 2020 dubai. originally scheduled for 2020, the international event was postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic. the highly anticipated world expo finally opens today, october 1st, and will run for six months until the end of march 2022.

‘we are honored to unveil both the UAE pavilion and qatar pavilion at dubai expo 2020,’  said santiago calatrava. ‘distinct in design and experience, the UAE pavilion emulates a falcon in flight, while the qatar pavilion pays tribute to the coat of arms of qatar – both rooted in their rich histories and cultural heritage.’

santiago calatrava UAE pavilion expo 2020 dubai
images © palladium photodesign / oliver schuh + barbara burg


the calatrava-designed UAE pavilion takes center stage at the heart of dubai’s expo site with a design described as ‘a symbolic interpretation of the flow of movement’. the 27.8-meter-tall building is topped with a massive movable roof composed of 28 ‘wings’, which can fully open within three minutes, positioning themselves anywhere between 110 and 125 degrees.

inside, visitors are immersed in clean, futuristic, yet organic-shaped spatial atmospheres. the main space is crowned with an oculus skylight that mirrors the form of the expo 2020 logo while a sphere-shaped, multi-faceted auditorium in the center serves as both a visual centerpiece and functional space with a capacity of 200 people.

santiago calatrava UAE pavilion expo 2020 dubai
28 movable ‘wings’ top the UAE pavilion

as well as crafting dynamic spaces, calatrava also prioritized sustainability by incorporating elements that are energy efficient, reduce water consumption, and optimize indoor air quality. the final UAE pavilion is certified leed platinum and is compliant with the dubai green building regulations and specifications (DGBR). 

in materiality, the design team sought to integrate regional materials as well as native plant species. the building is surrounded by landscaped areas with over 5,600 plants from 12 different species, of which 2,350 are considered to be of cultural importance to the UAE, as well as over 80 trees, with approximately 45 of the trees holding cultural importance for the UAE.

santiago calatrava UAE pavilion expo 2020 dubai
the interior is crowned with an oculus skylight

‘we are thrilled to unveil the UAE pavilion and qatar pavilion to the public. the vision behind both structures took on many forms and challenged us to ensure that the end result of both designs represented UAE and qatar. each project draws inspiration from the urban fabric from which it rises, to serve as an extension of the respective country,’  said micael calatrava, CEO of calatrava international.