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Milan Expo 2015: United Arab Emirates

Foster + Partners



  • Client: National Media Council
  • Structural Engineer: Foster + Partmers
  • Quantity Surveyor: Fraser Randall
  • M+E Engineer: Foster + Partners
  • Landscape Architect: WATG
  • Lighting Engineer: David Atkinson
  • Additional Consultants: Acoustic - Sandy Brown

Project Status


Year Completed



4,386 sq. meters


Milan Expo 2015

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Tall, undulating walls that reference the United Arab Emirates' (UAE's) narrow streets and vast desert dunes guide visitors through the site, designed by London-based Foster + Partners, while interactive media displays explore the country's agriculture and food-production industries. Following the Expo's close, the pavilion will be re-assembled at Madsar City, a low-carbon, energy development campus in the UAE.

Project Description


Theme: Food for ThoughtShaping and Sharing the Future

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. 
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