Public Realm Design in Challenging Climates
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"8000","speed":"1000","arrows":"true","dots":"false","loop":"true","nav_slide_column":5,"rtl":"false"}

DETAILS

LocationDubai, UAE
ClientExpo 2020
Size1,083 acres

From October 2021 to April 2022, the City of Dubai will host the World Expo: a large-scale International Registered Exhibition that will bring nations together with universal themes and immersive experiences. It will comprise an entire new city, built on a 1,083-acre site between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Expo site is organized around a central plaza linked to three main thematic districts, each dedicated to one of the Expo’s sub-themes: Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability.

SWA designed the majority of Expo 2020’s public realm, including the central garden (Al Wasl, Arabic for “the connection”), the main entry plaza, the long pedestrian loop linking the districts, and four parks. These spaces exemplify how the experience of the public realm can be enhanced while mitigating extreme climate conditions. The Al Wasl garden is protected by a domed, 65-meter-high trellis, designed by AS+GG (Architects), with whom SWA collaborated closely through the whole design process. This structure’s fabric panels shield visitors from the sun, allow free air movement, and provide a projection surface for outdoor entertainment. A central fountain mirrors the oculus of the dome and is complemented by seven additional water features, each with a different treatment, that provide respite and entertainment for visitors. The exotic and native plants of Al Wasl display a diverse array of colors and textures.

The shade structure at the Loop Boulevard (the main pedestrian spine for Expo visitor circulation) provides shelter from the sun with a design inspired by the stylized silhouettes of doves in flight, giving an airy and playful theme to the boulevard. Mature native ghaf trees (a species essential to the local ecosystem) flank the boulevard’s sides and establish a green corridor throughout the entire Expo site.

The two parks designed by SWA (Jubilee and Al Forsan), along with the Oasis and Gavath Trail, provide a rich program of attractions for the visitors, including performance spaces, playgrounds, fountains, an open air souk with SWA-designed kiosks, and restaurants. Over 50 percent of the plant species used at the parks are native.

In total, the public realm of Dubai Expo 2020 will welcome tens of millions of visitors, engaging them with striking, durable, landscape both contends with local climate and celebrates the robust species that thrive within it.

Featured article:

Grounding the Future:
SWA’s Public Realm Design for Expo 2020

Related Projects

Elk Grove Civic Center

SWA’s design for this community resource improves upon part of a 56-acre master plan with a civic center campus set within a beautiful park, and an added public outdoor commons. The pedestrian-friendly commons weaves new buildings together with mature trees and an outdoor living space linking together a community center, an aquatics center, and a future librar...

Pacific Plaza

The latest step in the renaissance of Downtown Dallas has arrived with Pacific Plaza, a 3.89-acre public park that serves the central business district’s burgeoning population and contributes substantially to the city’s outdoor experience. The first of an ambitious four-park initiative, Pacific Plaza complements adjacent urban greenspace with a varied program ...

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

This office building’s roof garden celebrates a potent image of the native Texas landscape: the level, grass-covered plains emerging from a wooded riparian area. A design vocabulary of native, drought-tolerant plant materials, especially selected to react to light and air movement, reinforces this design approach. The project serves as a two-acre rooftop garde...

Shenzhen Bay

Situated just across the bay from Hong Kong, the city of Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing town of 30,000 to a booming city of over 10 million people in 40 years – and has grown over 200 times its original size since 1980. Along the way, the character of Shenzhen’s bayfront was radically altered. Over 65 km2 of marsh and shallow bay were filled to ...

Shenzhen Bay

Situated just across the bay from Hong Kong, the city of Shenzhen has transformed from a small fishing town of 30,000 to a booming city of over 10 million people in 40 years – and has grown over 200 times its original size since 1980. Along the way, the character of Shenzhen’s bayfront was radically altered. Over 65 km2 of marsh and shallow bay were filled to ...

Bend of the River Botanic Garden

The Bend of the River Botanic Garden Master Plan will transform an 88-acre site in Temple, Texas, into a regional destination. Located at the southeast quadrant of the intersection of interstate I35 and the Leon River, the site is composed of two parcels separately donated to the City of Temple and consolidated into a single property.  Public engagement was cr...

Gubei Gold Street

SWA was selected to conceptualize, design, and realize a rare find in bustling Shanghai—a pedestrian mall (Gold Street). The corridor occupies three city blocks, is flanked by 20-story high-rise residential towers with retail at street level and book-ended by SWA-designed parks. Creating an iconic presence and enlivening the area, the mall features plazas, fou...

San Jacinto Plaza

SWA’s redesign of San Jacinto Plaza, a historic gathering place in El Paso’s downtown business district provides a state-of-the-art urban open space, while protecting and celebrating the history and culture of the site. The project was the result of an intensive community process involving input from a wide range of constituents. Active programming, environmen...