Werner Sobek has developed a trio of innovative shading systems for Expo 2020 Dubai. These systems link together all of the national pavilions on the exhibition site. The structures cover a total area of approx. 96,000 m². All three systems use the same basic concept of a large-span steel frame construction as the foundation of their designs. To cope with the harsh climatic conditions of the site, innovations in filament scrim technology were integrated into the design.

The objectives also included minimising CO² emissions and grey energy as well as design and construction that is suitable for recycling.

Shade for a Desert State

The first shading system consists of non-prestressed glass fibre rovings that are devoid of trusses or any visible transverse supports. These membranes can be moved when exposed to excessive wind loads. The design offers shade during the day and functions as a projection surface at night. Overall, 228 large-format membrane elements with a total area of 56,000 m² have been installed at the Expo 2020 site.

The second system is composed of multi-layered, horizontal cable net structures that provide support for approx. 3,500 membrane elements. These bird-shaped membranes span distances of up to 4 m and cover a combined area of nearly 14,000 m².

The third system is made up of pergolas that span a total area of approx. 27,000 m². These pergolas feature around 11,000 climbing plants whose roots are anchored into the structures’ canopy levels. In addition to offering shade cover, the plants also provide natural cooling via transpiration.

CEEQUAL Certified with ‘Excellent’ Rating

All three shading systems have been created in such a way that they can even tolerate high deformations with no difficulty whatsoever. This allows the spacious World Expo grounds to be shaded with efficient, large-span constructions that make a significant contribution to visitors’ comfort without compromising their views of the surrounding landscape. The overall design has been CEEQUAL certified with an ‘Excellent’ rating, the highest possible award. The shading systems were planned using the same comprehensive digital model that was employed for all of the World Expo’s other structures. This BIM model is the largest of its kind on the planet.

Werner Sobek, Stuttgart/Germany

Planning time
2017 – 2018

Construction time
2018 – 2020

Services by Werner Sobek

  • General planning
  • Design
  • Structural engineering
  • MEP engineering
  • Sustainability concept (renewable energy, microclimate optimization, recyclable materials)
  • CEEQUAL certification
  • Site supervision

96,000 m²

CH2M Mace Joint Venture on behalf of Expo 2020 Dubai/UAE

Rethinking the Future Awards 2022

Roland Halbe, Stuttgart/Germany
Andreas Keller, Altdorf/Germany
Nikolay Kazakov, Karlsruhe/Germany

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