5 Incredible Structures That Have Made a Dazzling Debut at Dubai Expo 2020

5 Pavilions at Dubai Expo 2020

Left to right: Sustainability Pavilion, Polish Pavilion, UK Pavilion, Russia Pavilion, UAE Pavilion

The ongoing Dubai Expo 2020 is a world exposition running from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, and it includes some of the most innovative ideas in architecture and design today. The expo was rescheduled due to travel and building restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic but has made up for it with plenty of fascinating structures.

The event covers 438 hectares of space between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and features incredible structures by architects, designers, and artists from around the world. Though there is a large range of designs to admire, all are united by the expo’s theme of “connecting minds, creating the future.” Some pavilions—like Grimshaw’s Sustainability Pavilion—are dedicated to a single idea facing the world. Other concepts celebrate the unique contributions to society from certain countries.

My Modern Met has individually covered some of the amazing structures of Dubai Expo 2020, but now we want to lay out some of our personal favorite pavilions across the event. If you want to check out some of our favorite architectural projects outside of Dubai Expo 2020, be sure to check out our favorite buildings that opened in 2021.


Here are five of our favorite pavilions at Dubai Expo 2020.


Sustainability Pavilion

Sustainability Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Photo: Dubai Expo 2020 (Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn)

Grimshaw’s Sustainability Pavilion was designed as a long term-investment for after Dubai Expo 2020. Officially titled Terra, the structure is made up of a massive “energy tree” measuring 135 meters (442 feet) wide. The design of the energy tree is inspired by the dragon blood tree (Socotra dragon tree). The circular roof is held up by a central column that flows seamlessly as it performs first as a structure and then transforms into a roof.  The main building of the pavilion is surrounded by smaller water trees that filter water and help the complex successfully generate all of the electricity and water needed for it to function. On the interior, visitors can experience 6,000 meters (almost 20,000 square feet) of space designed by Thinc as exhibition areas for a museum on science and sustainability after the expo.

Read more on our previous coverage of the pavilion.

Grimshaw Architects: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn
Dubai Expo 2020: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn


Polish Pavilion

Polish Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

The Polish Pavilion by WXCA and Bellprat Partner is part-building, part work of art. Delicate kinetic sculptures seem to emerge from a modular timber building in the Mobility District. Representing a flock of birds in flight, the sculpture celebrates an unseen connection between the sites of Poland and Dubai—the migration of birds. They also help to provide shade to the exterior. Within the pavilion, the designers in partnership with Tellart, Science Now, and Stellar Fireworks fill the interior with the sights and sounds of Polish ecologies.

Read more on our previous coverage of the pavilion.

WXCA: Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn
Bellprat Partner: Website | Instagram | Vimeo
Tellart: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Vimeo
Science Now: Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | Behance
Stellar Fireworks: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
Dubai Expo 2020: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn


UK Pavilion

UK Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Visitors to Dubai Expo 2020 might find themselves standing at the UK Pavilion for quite a while as they read the shifting poetry displayed on the structure. The pavilion features long timber extrusions with lit-up text at each end. Also known as the Poem Pavilion, an algorithm uses visitor-submitted words in English and Arabic to generate poetry. British designer Es Devlin says the idea came from a desire to both express the cultural diversity of Britain today and to hint at the technological future of the country. We loved this design for the unique engagement with visitors to the expo.

Read more on our previous coverage of the pavilion.

Es Devlin: Website | Instagram | Facebook
Dubai Expo 2020: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn


Russia Pavilion

Russia Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Located in the Mobility District of the expo, the Russia Pavilion stands out amongst the rest with colorful aluminum tubes woven around the entire structure. The complicated patterns of color hint at rapid motion and symbolize the unstoppable and free-flowing movement of ideas and knowledge. The form of the pavilion is inspired by the matryoshka—or Russian nesting doll—and meets the need for shade in the hot climate. In both form and material application, architect Sergei Tchoban celebrates the culture of Russia and the country’s contribution to the world through science, creativity, and the general progression of knowledge.

Read more on our previous coverage of the pavilion.

Sergei Tchoban: Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn
Simpateka Entertainment Group: Website | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | VK
Ilya Ivanov: Website | Instagram | Facebook
Dubai Expo 2020: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn


UAE Pavilion

UAE Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

If you are familiar with the work of Santiago Calatrava, his contribution to Dubai Expo 2020 might not be too difficult to spot. The futuristic UAE Pavilion is another example of the architect’s iconic design style. Like many of his other projects, the structure is inspired by the power of flight. Santiago Calatrava Architects & Engineers specifically channeled the actions and forms of a falcon—the national bird of the United Arab Emirates. The dynamic wings are meant to represent the future of architecture largely influenced by the idea of mobility. An operable roof furthers the imagery of the majestic falcon.

Read more on our previous coverage of the pavilion.

Santiago Calatrava: Website | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn
Dubai Expo 2020: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube | LinkedIn


Related Articles:

Stunning Sustainable Pavilion Is Made of Massive “Energy Trees”

Abstract Flock of Migrating Birds Frozen in Time Around a Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

AI Creates Its Own Poetry With Help From Visitors to the UK Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Russia Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 Is Wrapped With Interwoven Rainbow Tubes

Futuristic Pavilion Inspired by the Wings of a Falcon Designed for the Dubai Expo 2020

1,597 Rotating Cubes Create a Dazzling Light Display at the Dubai Expo 2020

Samantha Pires

Sam Pires is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She is also a freelance architectural designer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NJIT and is currently earning a Master in Architecture II from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sam has design experience at multiple renowned architecture firms such as Gensler and Bjarke Ingels Group. She believes architecture should be more accessible to everyone and uses writing to tell unexpected stories about the built environment. You can connect with her online at @sampir.fi.
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