Architecture Events Exhibition Installation

Asif Khan designs three mashrabiya-inspired entry portals to Dubai Pavilion for Expo 2020

February 10, 2020

British architect Asif Khan has designed three entrance portals for the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE, which will launch in October. The portals are a futuristic adaptation of the traditional mashrabiya, an intricate latticework seen on doors, windows and balconies, and used across the Arabian Gulf region to regulate light and airflow. Khan, who designed the super black Hyundai Pavilion for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018, and architect of Expo 2020 Dubai’s Public Realm, describes the Expo Entry Portals as his best work yet.

“The portals are the first thing you see as you approach the site, so they are a landmark at the beginning and end of your journey at Expo 2020. I would like visitors to Expo, especially children, to be inspired by architecture they have never seen before, and to be excited that it is part of the heritage of the region. Passing through the doors represents a physical and symbolic act of moving from the past into the future.” – Asif Khan

The portals are woven entirely from strands of ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre composite that provide extensive structural strength. This enables the distinct structures to stand 10.5 metres wide and 21 metres high – taller than a six-storey building – and 30 metres long without any additional support. The portals lead to tree-filled arrival courtyards, also designed in collaboration with Khan – one in each of the three Expo 2020 districts: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Referencing the rich history of innovative structures from past World Expos, these portals are a futuristic interpretation of architecture inspired by the regional aesthetics. The structures took three years to develop and are the first element to be fully revealed from Khan’s design of Expo 2020’s Public Realm, which comprises more than six kilometres of walkable areas across the site.

Ahmed Al Khatib, chief development and delivery officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, says: “The Expo Entry Portals will provide a wonderful way to welcome millions of people from across the globe to the world’s greatest show, giving a first taste of the amazing architecture and groundbreaking innovation they will experience all around the site.”

Photos: Hélène_Binet

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