Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 1 October 2020

Dubai Expo 2020 pavilion to be made of 2,500 tonnes of stone and an incredible 100 kilometres of woven rope

Developers are looking to the latest building design for the sprawling site

A building that uses thousands of tonnes of stone and hundreds of kilometres of rope to hold it together will be one of the centrepieces of the Expo 2020 Dubai site, as architects and engineers look to demonstrate the latest in innovative design.

Made from 111 kilometres of woven rope, the outer structure of the distinctive Opportunity Pavilion evokes the imagery of the desert landscape replicating the sweeping majesty of sand dunes.

Expo 2020 Dubai organisers have revealed the design plans for the 4,500 sqm pavilion to be made from recyclable and organic material such as timber, rope and about 2,500 tonnes of stone.

“We wanted this to be a magnet for Expo 2020 visitors,” Maha Al Gargawi, director for international participants at Expo 2020 Dubai told The National ahead of its unveiling on Sunday.

We want to walk the talk because we are committed to sustainable development so all the material will be natural and the curation, design and construction of the pavilion echoes sustainability.”

Interactive gaming elements will be part of the experience for visitors.

As visitors walk through the structure, the aim is to make sustainability the focus and to prompt them to explore the choices they can make in their own lives.

“We will take visitors on an engaging journey through the gaming component that will help them understand and visualise how their choices can leave an impact on our world. We are aiming to attract all age groups regardless of where they come from,” Ms Al Gargawi said.

The Opportunity Pavilion is the last major design element to be revealed by Expo 2020 Dubai It will place millions of visitors at the heart of human development and celebrate the progress made towards achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Visitors will be taken on engaging and interactive journeys that will feature decision-making and gaming components They will be encouraged to explore how individual choices and actions can make a positive, collective contribution to global causes The Opportunity Pavilion will be 4,500 square metres in size It will be constructed from natural and organic materials such as timber, rope and stone All of the materials are recyclable and no concrete will be used in the Pavilion’s construction Its spiral shaped canopy will be made from around 111km of woven rope About 2,500 tonnes of stone will be used in the construction of the pavilion The Pavilion’s surrounding area will feature food and beverage, retail, seating, entertainment and grassed areas It will feature a ‘rope and light’ theme throughout, with intertwined ropes reflecting the coming together of people to contribute to human progress The Pavilion is designed by Australia-based Cox Architecture, and UK company Event Communications will curate the exhibition
The Opportunity Pavilion is the last major design element to be revealed by Expo 2020 Dubai.

“This does not require prior or specific knowledge of sustainable development goals. We are assuming that all visitors may not know this. We want a visitor who visits the Opportunity Pavilion to leave feeling that they can take action and could actually to contribute to a more sustainable future. Our aim is to educate using an entertaining element.”

The braided rope structure will permit light to filter through by day and creates an intricate pattern of shadows by night. The pavilion will be surrounded by a landscaped area with seats, stretches of grass, walking paths dotted with food and beverage stalls.

Australia's Cox Architecture and the British company Event Communications won international bids to design the building and curate the exhibition within.

“The pavilion will feature a rope-and-light theme throughout, with intertwined ropes reflecting the coming together of people to contribute to human progress, giving them a sense of fulfillment and encouraging further action,” said Steve Woodland, principal director at Cox Architecture.

“The Opportunity Pavilion is a welcoming space that draws people together and sets them on a fun and engaging journey that progressively immerses them as active participants in a mind-awakening experience.”

High on the United Nations' 2030 agenda for sustainable development is ending poverty. The other objectives include avoiding throwing out food, helping children to read, avoiding wasting water and use of plastic bags, clean energy, planting trees and international partnerships to achieve these goals.


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The pavilion aims to spark people’s curiosity by allowing them to share ideas.

“Each Expo pavilion focuses on different sub themes and through the Opportunity Pavilion we wanted to focus on the objectives that are set by the UN Development Programme and use the pavilion to popularise the sustainable development goals," Ms Al Gargawi said.

"The expo will attract 25 million visits and we hope to attract these millions of visitors to the pavilion to popularise the sustainable development goals. We hope to create a platform for international collaboration that will be a catalyst to create partnerships with new ideas, new technology and bring together countries and corporations."

The pavilion is the last major design element to be revealed before the six-month World Expo begins in October 2020. The other two pavilions are based on mobility and sustainability.

There is no specific figure available for the construction of each pavilion, but Dh25 billion ($6.8 billion) is the overall budget for the Expo 2020 Dubai.

While the mobility pavilion incorporates solutions for movement of people and goods, enabling better access for the disabled, the sustainability building will produce much of its energy and water requirements and is bordered by energy or water trees made from solar panels.

Updated: September 23, 2018 12:46 PM

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