After the expo: What happens when Dubai's global extravaganza is over?
Updated 14th September 2017
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After the expo: What happens when Dubai's global extravaganza is over?
So you've hosted a world expo. Congratulations. Now what? Planning for the party is one thing, but a tougher job awaits once the guests have left.
World expositions are some of the greatest events on earth. They showcase the best of mankind's ingenuity, debut innovations, and with national pavilions, give each country a chance to showcase their culture.
Cementing the legacy of a world expo is a tricky feat, however. Get it wrong and a city can wake up despondent, with an empty wallet and a few architectural regrets.
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Get it right, however, and you can help justify the huge expenditure of your expo, galvanize communities, and show the world your forward-thinking image wasn't just a passing fad.
In short, the stakes are high.
Expo 2020 Dubai -- running from October 2020 to April 2021 -- is conscious of the fact, and this week released details of its legacy plan at real estate industry event Cityscape Global 2017.
Dubbed "District 2020," the area which the expo occupies in Dubai South will undergo extensive redevelopments before reopening in October 2021 -- not long after the expo closes in April that year.
The Foster + Partners designed Mobility Pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020. Credit: Expo 2020
Some buildings will remain unchanged, including the Santiago Calatrava-designed UAE National Pavilion, modeled on the wings of a falcon. Others will be transformed on the inside: The Sustainability Pavilion, for instance, will live on as a center for child and scientific education. The Dubai World Trade Center Conference and Exhibition Center will also remain once the expo closes.
The UAE Pavilion for Dubai 2020, designed by Santiago Calatrava and inspired by the wings of a falcon. Credit: Expo 2020
Grimshaw Architects designed Sustainability Pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020. Credit: Expo 2020
The upcoming District 2020 is touting itself as a ready-built community rather than just a business hub. It will have 700,000 square feet of residential space, education facilities and parkland equivalent to six soccer pitches. The Al Wasl Plaza, which acts as the nexus of the expo site, will remain, and contain a lush garden within its dome.
The Al Wasl Plaza lit up at night. The space at the heart of the expo site is set to live beyond the six-month event as the central hub of a new district in Dubai South. Credit: Expo 2020
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Looking to live up to Dubai's "smart city" moniker, the development will have one of the world's first 5G mobile networks. It's also targeting companies working in tech and innovation to occupy some of the 1.5 million square feet of commercial space allocated to the site, with buildings rising to 13 floors. Siemens has already agreed to build a new logistics hub in District 2020 according to local news, as well as consultancy firm Accenture.
Apartments planned for the upcoming District 2020. Credit: Expo 2020
Located one metro stop away from Al Maktoum International Airport, District 2020 will also function as a new Free Trade Zone, allowing businesses to operate tax-exempt and entirely foreign-owned.
Over 80% of the 200 hectare site will be retained according to documents released as part of the announcement, and planners hope District 2020 will more than double in size to become a city in its own right.
Inside the Al Wasl Plaza. The legacy team plan to transform the large dome into a park area when the expo is over. Credit: Expo 2020
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"District 2020 will continue to carry forward Expo 2020's mission of connecting people," says Marjan Faraidooni, an official specializing in Expo 2020 legacy.
The Expo 2020 legacy plan includes among its permanent structures (clockwise from left): the Mobility Pavilion, the Al Wasl Plaza, the UAE Pavilion and the Children and Science Center (previously the Sustainability Pavilion). Credit: Expo 2020
"It has been a key part of our planning from the very start, not just for our legacy team but the entire expo organization," adds HE Reem Al Hashimy, UAE minister of state for international cooperation and director of the Dubai Expo 2020 bureau.
The minister describes the venture as "a new alternative for urban living." With Expo 2020's theme "connecting minds, creating the future," it appears District 2020 is striving to practice what the expo preaches.
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