UAE Pavilion Milan Expo

Foster + Partners as Architects

The national pavilion for the United Arab Emirates occupies a large site close to the centre of the Milan Expo and is accessed via its main circulation axis, the decumanus. From here, visitors are drawn into the mouth of a canyon-like space, defined by two undulating 12-metre-high walls. Influenced by ancient planning principles, the pavilion’s interior evokes the narrow pedestrian streets and courtyards of the traditional desert city, and its contemporary reinterpretation in the sustainable Masdar masterplan. The high walls continue through the 140 metre site in a series of parallel waves, unifying the visitor spaces within a dynamic formal language designed to convey the ridges and texture of sand dunes


A ramp leads gently upwards from the entrance towards the auditorium. Along this route, the irrigation aqueducts that have historically supported agriculture in the region are introduced in digital form. The path leads to a state-of-the-art auditorium, contained within a drum at the heart of the site. After the screening, visitors follow a route through further interactive displays and digital talks, including a special exhibit celebrating Dubai as host city for the 2020 Expo. The exhibition trail culminates in a green oasis.


Conveying a unique sense of place, the landscaping around the pavilion is designed to evoke the UAE’s terrain and flora, while the texture of the walls derives from a scan of dunes.


The design uses the principles of LEED with a combination of passive and active techniques. Most significantly, the building is designed to be recycled. The GRC wall panels are supported by a steel frame, which can be easily demounted and reconstructed for the pavilion’s eventual relocation in the UAE.

UAE PAVILION: Theme ‘Food for Thought – Shaping and Sharing the Future’

EXPO 2015 S.p.a as Contractors

The Concept The UAE Pavilion explores the very real challenges that arise in feeding the planet, particularly in the interwoven topics of land, food, energy and water. It also highlights some of the innovative solutions that the UAE has developed in these areas. Solutions have been arrived at based on a local need but they have a very real global benefit since many parts of the world will be experiencing the same difficulties as the Emirates due to spiralling demand and the effects of climate change. By sharing knowledge and resources, the UAE is truly helping to shape the future. Traditional culture and the values that it inspires, the warmth and hospitality of Emiratis, the conviviality of food and a media-rich immersive environment combine to provide an experience that will be fun, emotional, challenging and thought provoking. Our ultimate aim is not only to educate and engage but to inspire commitment to change. Visitors can also find out about the UAE’s exciting plans to host the next World Expo in 2020, as well as interact with pioneering UAE companies, organisations and thought leaders through a series of permanent exhibitions, seminars and events.


The Design of the Pavilion Designed by Foster + Partners, the striking form of the UAE Pavilion is created by a series of tall rippled walls. These impressive 12-metre structures evoke both the narrow self-shaded streets of the UAE’s historic settlements and the magnificent open sand dunes of its deserts. 3D scans of dune surfaces have informed the wall design to create an authentic texture. These sinuous, curving shapes guide visitors through a range of intriguing spaces and exciting, informative experiences. Complementary landscaping based on native UAE species provides a welcoming green backdrop. Engineered for the naturally cool weather of Milan and the sunny climes of the United Arab Emirates, the pavilion will be dismantled at the end of Expo Milano 2015 and reassembled in the UAE’s low-carbon Masdar City, reflecting the principles embodied in Masdar’s sustainability ethos.

Products used in this project
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct name
Facade/ RoofKME Germany GmbH & Co. KG
Variant VX VBRplusSIMONSWERK GmbH
Variant VX CBRplus
manufacturer doorCapoferri Serramenti s.p.a.
Product Spec Sheet
Variant VX VBRplus
Variant VX CBRplus by SIMONSWERK GmbH
manufacturer door
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