Asif Khan, renowned British architecture studio, has designed the Expo Entry Portals, three spectacular gateways to Expo 2020 Dubai that will grant entry to visitors from 20 October. The structures are the first works to be unveiled from the studio’s design of more than six kilometres of Expo 2020 Public Realm.
Conceived in collaboration with Asif Khan, the portals are a futuristic exploration of the traditional “mashrabiya”, an elegant design element used across the region to control light and airflow.
Each portal’s remarkable appearance comes from being woven entirely from strands of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre composite that lend incredible structural strength. This enables the ethereal portal structures to stand 21 metres high and 30 metres long, without any additional support. From afar the portals appear to be composed of translucent planes, which up close visitors discover are made from hundreds of fine lines of structure.
The portals feature two vast doors – each door is 21 metres high and 10.5 metres wide – which will be opened every morning of the 173 days of Expo 2020 Dubai in a symbolic act of welcoming the world. They lead visitors to tree-filled arrival courtyards, also designed by Khan, in each of the three Expo 2020 districts: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
The project is the outcome of a three-year iterative design process working hand in hand with a manufacturer specialising in large format carbon composite components and an aircraft engineer. The final geometric pattern resolves the requirements of structural strength against material efficiency, wind permeability, shading quantity and manufacturing time.
Adding to the rich lineage of innovative structures from past World Expos, these portals are a future form of architecture which is inspired by the aesthetic of the region.
Asif Khan said “The portals will be the first and last encountering moment for all who make the journey to Expo 2020 Dubai, and these capture the very transcendental moment the region is experiencing as it hosts its first World Expo – the celebration not only of UAE’s heritage, but also the future.
“Designing the Public Realm for Expo 2020 Dubai is a seminal moment for my practice; each aspect of the design invites visitors to immerse themselves in shared Islamic culture, art and language in dialogue with the future spirit of Expo. As visitors explore the many facets of the Public Realm designs, from the Expo Entry Portals to the seating I made with Lara Captan, I hope it leaves them with an unforgettable sense and experience of place”.