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Levete and Morgan to judge contest for UK Pavilion at Expo 2020

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AL_A founder Amanda Levete and Sadie Morgan of dRMM have been named as judges of the design contest for the UK Pavilion at the World Expo in Dubai in 2020

The two are on an 11-strong panel announced by the pavilion’s organising committee last week. Other judges include artist Idris Khan, Architecture & Design Scotland chief executive Jim MacDonald and British Council head of architecture Sarah Mann.

The jury will select an overall winner of the Department for International Trade-backed competition. It is understood a shortlist has already been selected but has yet to be announced.

The multidisciplinary team chosen for the £1.7 million design contract will create a landmark structure showcasing UK innovation within the opportunity zone of the 150ha expo site (pictured) on the fringes of the UAE’s most populous city.

The winning scheme will be expected to respond to the event’s ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ theme, harness groundbreaking digital technologies, and build on the UK’s track record of pavilion successes. Both the Shanghai 2010 pavilion by Heatherwick Studio and the Milan 2015 pavilion by Wolfgang Buttress and BDP won the ‘best in show’ prize, while Asif Khan’s pavilion for the smaller Astana 2017 Expo won a silver design award.

Baroness Fairhead, minister of state for trade and export promotion, said: ‘Expo 2020 is a fantastic platform to promote Global Britain on the world stage. The UK Pavilion will demonstrate the best of British to millions of people, emphasising the high quality of the innovative goods and services produced by our world-leading businesses.

‘The UK has a proud history of building successful showcases at World Expos, and supported by this excellent panel, the government is confident that Expo 2020 will create even more terrific opportunities for UK companies.’

Laura Faulkner, UK commissioner and project director of Expo 2020 Dubai, said: ‘We’re delighted that such an esteemed, accomplished and varied panel are joining us to decide on the winning design of the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020.

‘Previous UK Pavilions at World Expos have attracted a significant number of visitors, with the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Seed Cathedral and Wolfgang Buttress’s Hive both going on to win a number of major awards.

‘The pavilion will showcase the best of UK design, manufacturing, technology and much more throughout the 172 days of the Expo, and we look forward to announcing the winning design later this year.’

Dubai is the largest and most populous city in the UAE and will be the first entity within the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region to host a world expo. HOK and Arup were selected four years ago to masterplan the £4.75 billion exhibition, located next to Dubai World Trade Centre’s 440ha Jebel Ali development .

Foster + Partners, BIG and Grimshaw Architects were chosen to deliver three permanent centrepiece pavilions focusing on mobility, opportunity and sustainability respectively, following a series of competitions two years ago.The Foster and Grimshaw pavilions are now both under construction but the BIG pavilion has been shelved in favour of a temporary structure.

The six-month-long expo is expected to attract 25 million visitors and will run from October 2020 to April 2021.

In 2016, a team featuring Weston Williamson was chosen for a new £2.2 billion metro route serving the Expo 2020 Dubai. Planned to complete in 2020, the extension to Dubai’s Red Line includes an 11.8km viaduct and 3.2km of underground track.

Dubai beat Sao Paulo in Brazil, Yekaterinburg in Russia and Izmir in Turkey to win the rights to host the high-profile global event in November 2013. The expo – themed ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ – will be the first ever to be held in the Middle East and North Africa & South Asia region.

Practices that have recently set up studios in the wealthy emirate include Grimshaw Architects, Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners, Assael Architecture and Santiago Calatrava. Once complete, the expo site will be expected to accommodate up to 300,000 visitors.



The jury

  • Rebecca Evernden: Director of International UK Space Agency
  • Professor Dame Wendy Hall DBE FREng FRS: Professor of Computer Science and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute, University of Southampton
  • Idris Khan OBE: Artist
  • Amanda Levete CBE; Founder and Principal of AL_A
  • Sarah Mann; Head of Architecture, Design & Fashion, British Council
  • Jim MacDonald, Chief Executive, Architecture & Design Scotland
  • Stephen Metcalfe MP, Member of the Science and Technology Select Committee
  • Professor Sadie Morgan, Director, dRMM Architects
  • Kathryn Parsons MBE, Founder and CEO, Decoded, UK
  • Dr Mike Short CBE, Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for International Trade
  • Laura Faulkner OBE: UK Commissioner and Project Director, Expo 2020 Dubai

Q&A with Laura Faulkner, UK commissioner and project director, Expo 2020 Dubai

Laura Faulkner, UK commissioner general Expo 2020 Dubai

Laura Faulkner, UK commissioner and project director, Expo 2020 Dubai

What is your vision for the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai?

As the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region, and the first to be hosted by an Arab country, the opportunities to connect with one of the most dynamic, young, and fastest growing regions in the world are immense. The expo will create a ‘world in one place’ environment with an expected footfall of 25 million visitors from across the Gulf States and all over the world including all of the UK’s key trading partners.

We anticipate a highly innovative and creative design which should bring to the fore new technologies and innovations which the UK is currently developing. The design is expected to build on the success of Asif Khan, Wolfgang Buttress and Thomas Heatherwick who have previously designed expo pavilions for the UK.

The UK’s presence will consist of a self-build Pavilion in a large plot within the Opportunity District of the Expo site.

Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai

How will the UK’s Pavilion in Dubai match the UK’s award-winning presence at previous expos?

The UK’s presence at the Expo will be designed around the theme ‘Global Britain – Innovating for a shared future’. The UK will deliver an outstanding presence at Expo 2020 Dubai, building on its award-winning presence at previous Expos in Shanghai, Milan and Astana. The brief is seeking a high-impact, innovative and creative solution that promotes the very best in British design and technology. The UK Pavilion will form the centrepiece of all the UK’s activity in the UAE, the Gulf and beyond for the period of the expo. As with The Hive in Milan and The Yurt in Astana, the UK Pavilion will offer a unique, and unforgettable experience for all visitors.

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