Expo Dubai 2020: The desert is green


Expos – or World Fairs – have been synonymous with the most innovative and creative architectural designs throughout their history. It is the Expos that gave Paris its Eiffel Tower and Seattle its Space Needle, and Dubai is hoping to follow in their footsteps with the Middle East’s first Expo, which has been focusing entirely on sustainability since 1 October. Supplying the shopfit for all its official stores, plus displays and retail systems for a host of the US and Australian pavilions, umdasch has been heavily immersed in making Dubai Expo a sustainable festival of place.


Dubai is the first country from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region to host a World Expo. Expo 2020 Dubai, postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, runs with the theme 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'. The show has begun on 1 October and is expected to attract more than 25 million visitors from all over the world over its six months of opening. In all, 50,000 employees have helped to set up 192 national pavilions and 30,000 volunteers have been recruited to welcome the world at Expo 2020 Dubai. In a first, every participating nation will have its own pavilion and the countries will be clustered not by their geography but under Expo 2020’s three sub-themes of ‘Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability’.

Sustainability drives Expo strategy

At the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai is Terra - The Sustainability Pavilion, created as a model for adopting sustainable practices, as well as a learning and innovation platform for supporting Dubai’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The 4,912 solar panels on the pavilion’s 130-metre wide canopy and 18 ‘Energy Trees’ will help generate 4GWh of alternative energy per year, enough electricity to charge more than 900,000 mobile phones.

Terra (which means planet earth) it to offer what the organiser describes as an immersive journey through the wonders of the natural world, including an interactive walk through the roots of the forest, where every footstep affects the ‘wood-wide-web’ (named after the phenomenon that trees in the forest exchange information through their roots and the threads of mycorrhizal fungi). The pavilion also uses cutting-edge water-reduction strategies, water recycling and alternative water sources. In line with previous fairs, Expo 2020 Dubai has drawn some outstanding architectural talents from across the world to design the national pavilions. With each nation determined to attract visitors with the most eye-catching, technologically advanced structures, many have hired the best architectural practices to design their pavilion. Two such examples are the Australian and US pavilions.

Das Modell für die Einführung nachhaltiger Praktiken sowie eine Lern- und Innovationsplattform an der Expo 2020
Photocredit: Shutterstock / Yuriy Seleznev / Justes

umdasch at Expo 2020 Dubai

Aside from supplying fixtures and systems for the 12 official merchandise stores for the whole of Expo 2020 Dubai, operated by TVG and totalling 3,200-3,300 m² in retail space, umdasch is also providing fixtures in both of the pavilions’ retail areas and Patrick Fallmann, General Manager, umdasch Middle East, believes - such is the level of work that umdasch has gained across the event - that the business is the largest shopfitting firm present at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The US pavilion will have an enormous SpaceX rocket model on display. Standing at 43 metres-tall, the replica is of a Falcon 9 booster, which US space agency NASA has used so far for three missions – a test flight, Crew 1 and Crew 2 – to the International Space Station. The mock-up will be one of many space-themed displays at the pavilion.

Construction of the showcase Australian pavilion, which seeks to highlight Australia's "diversity, ingenuity and contribution through 60,000 years of innovation", was completed by Brisbane-based architectural firm bureau^proberts. The building showcases a dramatic roof structure that appears to hover and is said to be inspired by the cumulus cloud, reflecting a "feature of the diverse Australian landscape".

umdasch als Partner der Weltausstellung
Photocredit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Focus on re-use and recycling

Fallmann says that for Expo 2020 Dubai, a major criterion in terms of the project is sustainability. This includes re-use of equipment and fittings after the event, local manufacture – umdasch has a 7,000 sq m production facility less than 10km from the Expo site at the Dubai International Park 2 – and the use of locally-sourced materials.

“For example, our Steel Wood Density Board (SDB) is 100% recycled from wooden waste from construction sites. It is very durable and strong material,” says Fallmann. “The materials will be used at Expo and then either rented out for further contracts or shredded, compounded and recycled once again, to be reused once more. This, plus our close vicinity to Expo to simplify logistics and the use of local raw materials was very important in winning the contracts.”

Regionale und nachhaltige Materialien im Fokus
Photocredit: Expo 2020 Dubai

Green in every detail

A number of umdasch products are being used across the Dubai Expo site. Fold-up! is a very versatile pop-up display system that can be easily set up and used in different locations and configurations. Thanks to its modular design, Fold-up! offers the ideal platform for showcasing products of all kinds, regardless of their dimensions and product group, and, says Fallmann, it is a great system for brands such as start-ups looking for their first physical space and requiring a flexible display option.

“Varitable is a versatile table with two simple base models and different display options,” adds Fallmann of another umdasch product being used extensively at the Expo. “A modular table programme for all product ranges in the retail sector, it can be combined with individual components or electric add-ons.”

Finally, Basixx is being used across pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai and provides a basis for shopfitting systems which can be used in modular fashion and which can be used by all sectors within the retail world. The Basixxfresh is a shopfitting system that has proven important for grocery retailers, offering a durable shelving system, with a lot of flexibility to merchandise fittings.

Everything umdasch is supplying to Expo 2020 Dubai will be reused or recycled afterwards, emphasising how the company will support the global event in becoming the most sustainable ever.

umdasch unterstützt Expo 2020, die nachhaltigste Weltausstellung aller Zeiten zu werden
Photocredit: Shutterstock / Creative Family

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