Ten top tips for building your Expo 2020 Pavilion

Expo is one of the world’s most prestigious global events, designed to showcase the achievements and culture of participating nations and bring together the global community to share innovations and explore new ideas.

For participating nations, ensuring your pavilion stands out from the crowd will be no easy feat. As the first consultancy on the ground, we have compiled top ten tips for navigating the specific requirements of Expo 2020 pavilions for participating nations.

1. It’s all about visitor experience

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and glamour of a world Expo, particularly during the event. But how do you ensure your visitors continue to talk about your pavilion when Expo is over? Take them on a memorable journey. People come to Expo to experience something new, different and genuine. You must have a compelling story to tell. Think about the experience your pavilion will offer, and how you plan to promote this to your potential audience via social media and marketing.

Don’t get caught up on:  

  • Glossy structures – there are already plenty of these to visit in Dubai. The content and the theme of your pavilion are just as, if not more important 
  • Competing with your neighbours – smaller pavilions have an equal chance to be remembered, and will not be overshadowed by larger pavilions as long as they offer visitors an unique and entertaining experience 
  • The distance of your pavilion from Al Wasl Plaza - visitors will seek out the pavilions they’ve heard about in the media and from their friends and family, or those close to other feature districts, from the site’s four entrances.

2. Keep on top of your infrastructure and utilities fact sheet

Once you have been allocated a plot, you will receive an infrastructure and utilities fact sheet. This details planned infrastructure and includes restrictions related to your pavilion build. Tips for your team:

  • Keep checking the development of your design to ensure it complies with the fact sheet, especially if infrastructure works are ongoing.
  • Don’t work in isolation - keep abreast of the wider site development, just in case things don’t go according to plan.
  • Work closely with your design team to ensure compliance. Recognise it takes time and effort to get things done the right way.

3. Sustainability is not optional

Adherence to defined sustainability standards is mandatory, irrespective of the district your pavilion is located in. It is important to ensure your design team and contractor understand the most up-to-date sustainability guidelines issued by Expo. Whilst conventional solutions such as wind power and solar panels are symbols for sustainability, you need to consider your pavilion’s carbon footprint over its whole life cycle, and what measures will actively reduce this. Some of Expo 2020’s key areas of sustainability include:

  • Optimising potable water use
  • Adopting a holistic approach to the usage of life cycle materials, and possibly using local and recyclable materials
  • Waste segregation.

At least 50% of Expo site’s energy needs will be supplied with energy from renewable sources.

4. Design for access, weather and VIPs

Expo is considering a site queuing strategy, but do you know how you will make things work for your pavilion? Depending on your theme and visitors’ experience approach, you will need to consider whether a free-flow, controlled-flow, or alternative approach will create the most enjoyable experience.

A chamber-style pavilion has the potential to split long queues and reduce group waiting times. Or how about an interactive shaded structure with refreshments and means of engagement? Your queueing area could be an attraction in itself.

The weather 

For a change, weather concerns will not so much be about the heat, but adverse UAE winter weather such as rain or sandstorms. The design of your pavilion should consider these extremes.


Many pavilions will consider a separate entrance and facilities for VIP guests, while others will host special VIP-only shows during their visit.


Compliance with the Dubai Universal Design Code’saccessibility specifications is mandatory for Expo pavilions. Your team will need to design and cost for these.

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For further information, contact:

Adam Ralph

t: +9714 4309101