Mazen El Mahmoud
COX won an international competition to design The Opportunity Pavilion for Expo 2020 in Dubai. The winning concept responded to Expo 2020’s overarching theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, and its sub-themes of ‘Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability’, through a design narrative that explores human dignity as the thread that unites us all.
The Opportunity Pavilion is one of the three flagship pavilions for the Expo, which will explore the core issues confronting humanity in the 21st century.
The architecture, in connection with the exhibition design, is a call to action around the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Visitors will be taken on an engaging and interactive journey highlighting how individual actions can help solve global problems.
The Pavilion sits on a landscaped 12,000sqm site and houses 2,000sqm of exhibition space, with additional spaces to support events. The 4,500 sqm building is designed as a temporary structure. Gabion walls and an assembly of organic, recyclable materials will enable ease of disassembly, and future relocation and reuse. Approximately 111 kilometres of woven rope will be used to make the pavilion’s striking spiral-shaped canopy, symbolising the importance of people connecting to achieve common goals. This will be repurposed back into the community.
The curatorial exhibition progresses through a sequence of ribbon-like journeys that commence within a naturally-lit internal courtyard connected to the sky. From there, the visitor is led through the interior on three mission journeys that culminate outside at the ‘infinite bridge’. This ramp is sheltered by the woven rope canopy and its central crucible sun-bud. The infinite bridge leads to the co-create space, which can house additional programme and event experiences. From here the visitor transitions back into the landscape and the food and beverage offering.
Steve Woodland, COX Principal Director
The Opportunity Pavilion is a welcoming space that draws people together and sets them on a fun and engaging journey that progressively immerses them as active participants in a mind-awakening experience.
The pavilion will feature a ‘rope-and-light’ theme throughout, with intertwined ropes reflecting the coming together of people to contribute to human progress, giving them a sense of fulfilment and encourage further action.
The Opportunity Pavilion will also house ‘Small Steps, Big Leaps,’ Expo 2020’s Global Best Practice Programme. Developed by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIW), who are the body that oversee the running of World Expos, the programme calls for every world expo to showcase successful and impactful solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
The Opportunity Pavilion gives people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to make meaningful contributions to global development goals, and to empower individuals to become forces for global change.