Dubai Expo Pavilion 2020

An awe-inspiring reminder of British innovation

The UK is an island nation, a marine horizon in every direction connecting us to the world. The British have always felt compelled to explore those horizons – from John Harrison’s marine chronometer unlocking the problem of longitude at sea, to Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Starshot project seeking to realise interstellar flight.

IF_DO's Pavilion vision for the Dubai Expo 2020, In the Horizon, captures and evokes that ambition, initiating curiosity and a sense of awe in those that visit. Picture the scene: a new landform rises out of the desert. Below its surface, the visitor experiences a series of exhibitions on boundary-breaking British innovation, from horizons at a nano scale to ones that seek to probe the Universe. Visitors work their way up through the exhibits and eventually reach the structure’s peak to see the horizons of Dubai itself from the Pavilion’s highest point.

Seemingly floating above a sea of light the structure emulates the silhouette of a ship from the outside, while from within, its different aspects create moments of majesty, reflection and awe.

Around its edge, a light rain effect echoes quintessential British weather, while creating a cool internal space. The rain is performative and responsive: very light at the height of the day to minimise evaporation, with greater volumes at dusk and after sundown. Across the surface of the landform, an array of poles make a forest-like effect. The poles create a light-show designed in collaboration with Arup and the acclaimed British artist Susan Collins responding to global tidal data throughout the course of the Expo. As visitors turn and look back they will see the Horizon structure floating on its sea of poles, reinforcing their impressions of an island nation driven by its relationship with what lies beyond.


Dubai Expo 2020