ARCHITECTURE AT EXPO 2020 DUBAI | AL WASL PLAZA

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Expo 2020 is host to some of the most exciting country pavilions marked by unique and stellar architecture representing each nation’s legacy and vision of the future.

Architect: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture
Location: Al Wasl Plaza
b encompassing an area of 724,000 cubic meters, with a height of 67.5 meters, plus a 22.5 meters crown.
Weight: 550 tons
Material: Moulded steel sourced from Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Preparation time: 14 months
Technical difficulty: Raising the curved steel crown (handled with 18 hydraulic jacks supported by steel lifting ropes connected to 18 freestanding makeshift columns)
Function: 360-degree projection surface.

Aerial view of Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Aerial view of Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Weighing 550 tonnes of moulded steel, Al Wasl dome’s 22.5-metre crown had to be precisely positioned on top of the vertical trellis, with a margin of error of only three millimetres. It was completed using a technique called strand-jacking. Including the structures and equipment required to lift the dome during this process, the total weight was 830 tonnes – equivalent to 600 saloon cars.

Eighteen hydraulic jacks, aided by steel lifting ropes connected to 18 freestanding temporary columns, were used to slowly raise the curved steel crown. It was positioned directly on top of the trellis already in place 45 metres above the ground, and attached using 53 temporary connection brackets. Working through the night, 800 engineers and construction technicians carefully monitored every millimetre of the process, using GPS indicators throughout to ensure perfect alignment.

To retain the geometry of the trellis structure as it was lifted, a series of tension cables was installed, connecting the perimeter of the trellis crown to a central temporary compression ring. Multiple test lifts were conducted to measure the movement of the structure as it was lifted off the ground. The tensioned cables were adjusted until the trellis perimeter connection points were in the positions required for the full lift to commence.

Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Suneesh Sudhakaran/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Al Wasl dome’s crowning was the culmination of 14 months of preparation, beginning when the final pieces of the dome’s steel trellising left Italy on 26 June 2018. The individual elements first arrived in Dubai in July 2018 and the crown was carefully assembled at ground level before being raised into place.

The name Al Wasl means ‘connection’ in Arabic, and Al Wasl Plaza connects the three Thematic Districts and provides a focal point for visitors throughout the six-month event. Al Wasl Plaza has been designed to form a grand ‘urban room’, a meeting place that creates a shaded microclimate unlike anywhere else in Dubai; a space that simultaneously and uniquely encompasses vibrant performances and natural landscaping.

Detail at Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Detail at Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

Al Wasl Plaza, which includes the dome’s unique and iconic structure, was designed by US-based architects Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; the raw steel for the trellis was sourced from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland; the steel was shaped into its flowing curves by companies in Belgium, Germany and Spain, before being moulded into its intricate latticing in Italy by Cimolai Rimond. The steel trellis was shipped in batches to Dubai by DP World, Expo 2020’s Premier Global Trade Partner. Expo 2020’s Official Programme Delivery Management Provider, Jacobs Mace, worked on the overall project management and companies from the United States, Canada, China, France, Japan and Mexico also played key roles in the completion of the dome.

Aerial night view of Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)
Aerial night view of Al Wasl, Expo 2020 Dubai. (Photo by Dany Eid/Expo 2020 Dubai)

The information was extracted from the press release.
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