HOK and other UK-based consultants celebrate winning bid for multi-billion pound event

HOK has released new images of its masterplan for Dubai’s 2020 World Expo following the announcement that the Emirate has won its bid for the prestigious global trade show.

Dubai’s triumph, announced last week, is being hailed as a boost for a number of British consultants given that Arup and Populous also worked on the masterplan and Mace advised Dubai on its bid.

The Expo is the third-largest global event after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup with the United Arab Emirates expected to award an estimated £21bn in construction and other supplier contracts next year.

The 1,082 acre Expo site is on the south western edge of Dubai in Jebel Ali, near Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport and Jebel Ali Port.

HOK’s design features three separate pavilions symbolising “opportunity, sustainability and mobility,” and emanating from a central plaza.

Inspired by the layout of a traditional Arabic ‘souk’ or marketplace, it involves larger pavilions placed on the edges of the site while smaller exhibit spaces are clustered toward the centre.

HOK claims this layout will foster a “smooth pedestrian flow” and visitor interaction.

The main walkways are covered with a photovoltaic fabric structure which is intended to act as a sun shade while also generating – along with other photovoltaic panels on buildings – enough energy for at least half of the Expo’s onsite requirements.

Other sustainable strategies include recycling waste water, reusing materials and monitoring the carbon footprint.

After the close of the Expo in 2021, the three main pavilions will be combined and transformed into a museum about the Expo.

The Expo is expected to draw more than 25 million visitors from October 2020 through to April 2021.


Reaction from UK consultants involved in the Expo

Tim Gale, director of planning for HOK in London: “This is a well-deserved honour for the UAE. With its mixture of education, innovation and entertainment, the plan reflects the wonderful qualities of Dubai and the form and spirit of a World Expo.”

Chris Lee, senior principal and director at Populous: “The site, the programme and the innovative design will make the Expo a unique and inspirational experience.  At Populous, we are very proud to be part of the team designing the masterplan.”

Neil Walmsley, Middle East planning leader at Arup: “Arup is delighted at the success of the Dubai World Expo 2020 bid. It has been a privilege for us to be a key part of the bid team since May 2012 and we are excited about the potential opportunities to help make the Dubai vision into a successful reality over the next seven years”.

Nic Alford, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Mace: “As part of the team advising on the successful bid, we are delighted that Dubai has been named host city of Expo 2020. Mace has many years of experience working in the region and we also delivered the award-winning UK pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010. We look forward to being a part of this exciting event.”