Dubai: When you arrive at the threshold of Expo 2020 Dubai, take a moment to appreciate all 21 metres of the towering structure in front of you. These are the doors to the first World Expo ever hosted in the Arab region.
You are looking at an intricate latticework reminiscent of the mashrabiya architecture, a hallmark feature of the Islamic civilisation. Where you expect to see concrete or wood or metal, there is wiry carbon fibre woven into geometric precision.
The story of the Expo gates runs deeper than math, so be prepared to whip out your camera and capture the spectacle.
What is so special about the Entry Portals?
Mashrabiya: The design reflects traditional pattern work native to the Islamic world often used for its cooling properties.
Shade: The six-storey-tall structure shades you from the Arabian sun. Yes, despite its skeletal appearance, the portal is designed to provide visitors relief from heat.
Expo 2020 logo: Take a walk around the structure and spy the event’s loopy signature logo in the fibres. This is the result of an intriguing design that appears two- and three-dimensional all at once.
Swinging doors: Constructed from a strong yet very lightweight material, the portal’s pair of lofty doors can be opened and closed by a single person.
Okay, I’m game. Where can I visit the gates?
The portal is located at the entry gates of each Thematic District: Sustainability, Opportunity and Mobility. The openings are at the tip of each petal-shaped district wing near the site perimeter. So if you are coming in from the Metro Gate, it will be a lengthy walk through the heart of the venue to see one of these.
On entering the doors, visitors will be surrounded by trees native to the UAE on their short walk to the entry plaza.
Who designed the Entry Portals?
Asif Khan, London-based architect, designed a bulk of the key attractions in the public realm, which also includes the portals.
In an exclusive interview with GQ Middle East, the renowned architect shared his vision on how he wanted visitors to connect with the structure and the country at large.
"What I always think about is the inspiration you could give to a child visiting the expo. It could be an Emirati kid or the child of a local worker, who didn’t know architecture could be like this and thinks ‘maybe I could do this.’ If we can transform the minds of the next generation then Expo’s done its job."
Instagram your first encounter with the Expo, which inspires and transforms all at once and becomes your gateway to the futuristic trip of a lifetime.
- The writer is an intern with Gulf News.