Here’s what the leading design experts are looking forward to in the UAE in 2020

It’s a brand New Year and we all have brand new expectations. And why not, the world’s greatest show—Expo 2020, will take place in Dubai and there are other exciting projects we have our eyes on. Dubai will be splurged with tourist who would need accommodation. 71% of the 25mn visitors who are expected to visit Expo 2020 will be non-domestic visitors. New hotels and other magnificent attractions are coming up this year and are worth all the attraction. Design Middle East spoke to leading industry experts and they shared their favourite projects

Andrea Sensoli Architect and Founder of ASZ Architetti and SUPERFUTUREDESIGN*

Dubai Creek Harbour, Dubai by Calatrava
We used to make fun of Dubai for this, but this is true that it is the town of the records! So, setting and higher limits to the tallest tower it’s something that we want to see happening. Calatrava is a great architect and a better engineer; he made us used to incredible structures where a super high tech approach is aimed to combine performance and elegance. Despite, I undoubtedly like more the few examples of asymmetrical structures, I expect to see his masterpiece… and in this case, the dimension will make a difference.

Dubai creek Harbour

Expo 2020, Dubai
I grew up with Seville Expo ‘92. In fact, it was the theme for my final examination when I got graduated. The way I see the architecture, as Avantgarde and always innovation, the expo is the quintessence of this expression. It’s a very joyful moment when people meet and confront in a positive way: architecture takes the lead, in a balance of long term sustainability and short-term creativity, and the atmosphere is magic.

P Martin Dufresne Design Principal, U+A

The Human Fraternity Project, Abu Dhabi by Adjaye Associates
The project is a first-of-its-kind in the region, nurturing the values of peace and co-existence. The concept behind the architecture is using three clear geometric forms, not aligned but equal in size, with one being a mosque, a church and a synagogue. The project aims to bring people together and encourage acceptance, and tolerance.

UAE Pavilion, Dubai by Calatrava
The UAE pavilion will be the flagship of the Expo 2020, and undoubtedly a building to look out for. It will push the boundaries and have a global impact socially, intellectually and experientially commenting on the future of architecture globally.

UAE Pavilion

wasl Tower, Dubai by UNStudio
wasl Tower is a mixed-use development that addresses adaptability, sustainability, and beauty in form. Once finished it will be one of the tallest ceramic facades in the world and will have the ability to acclimate to local weather conditions through shading and cool methods. In terms of form and beauty, its architecture portrays in ‘figures in motion’ which is, intrinsically identifiable and a very familiar aspect of beauty. U+A is proud to be involved in this unique project as executive architect.

Pixel, a mixed-use development in Abu Dhabi by MVRDV
The towers step down on the lower floors with the intention of reducing the high-density felling of the project making the ground and public areas more pleasant and encouraging people to spend more time outside, the complexity almost chaotic way in how the different components of the project are put together is compensated by an holistic design approach which results in a congruous and at the same time vibrant environment.

Pixel project

Bee’ah Headquarters, Sharjah by Zaha Hadid Architects
Inspired on the sand dunes this project is a testimony of the genius of Zaha Hadid Architects, the project is identified with the style of Zaha Hadid’s more recent body of work however it reflects a great sense of place making it feel that it couldn’t be located anywhere in the world, the building is also an example of sustainable design and will be one of the greatest architectural references in the region.

Justin Wells Director, dwp

Mohammed Bin Rashid Library, Dubai (a project I lead the Interior Design for whilst at HBA and Woods Bagot)
This project is ambitious and exciting and above all, will be a world-class library and asset for the people of the UAE. With several libraries of specific themes, Children’s Library, Arabic Library, Family Library, International Library, Media Library, Young Adults Library and the like, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library will attract people on a continuous basis. The project is supplemented with world-class exhibitions spaces and auditorium; all located in the Al Jaddaf region on the Dubai Creek. The architecture is distinctive with its opened-book reference on the lectern and uses highly developed technology for light control for the users.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Library

25Hours Hotel, Dubai (a project I lead the Concept Design for whilst at Woods Bagot)
The first of its kind outside of Europe, the wildly fabulous and heavily narrated 25hours hotel will ensure the tradition of Arabic story-telling remains celebrated through a series of tales, told through experiences in the hotel.

The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences, Dubai by Kerzner
Dominating the skyline of the Palm Jumeirah, the Royal Atlantis Resort & Residence by Kerzner will continue to activate the Palm Jumeirah and bookend the already successful Atlantis Resort and Aquaventure waterpark. A selection of world-famous chef’s will take residence in the F&B spaces and the alluring and omnipresent architecture continues a wind-swept form between the two towers linked by a signature sky bridge.

The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences

ME by Melia, Dubai by Zaha Hadid Architects
This hotel will be as much celebrated for its design as its legacy of the late Zaha Hadid who didn’t get to see the final product. The ME by Melia hotel is centrally located in the Business Bay district, with typical signature curvilinear forms. As a result, there is much hype around this particular project

ME by Melia

Rochelle Mojica-Beligon Associate, Godwin Austen Johnson

The Museum of The Future, Dubai by Killa Design
Driving down the Sheikh Zayed Road, it is hard to miss The Museum of The Future taking shape. Apart from the eyecatching Arabic calligraphy that adorns its stainless steel façade, this new building will harness cutting edge technology with robots and artificial intelligence providing a truly interactive experience for visitors. Cleverly constructed The Museum of The Future is comprised of three main parts: the green hill, the building and the void. The green hill on which it stands represents roots and permanence. The elliptical void within the upper structure represents innovation, and the upper building represents mankind, artistry and harmony.

The Museum of the Future

Snow Abu Dhabi by Pascall + Watson
Another magical project set to open in the UAE this year is Snow Abu Dhabi. Billed as the world’s largest destination of its kind—Snow Abu Dhabi will open this year on Reem Island. It aims to create an enchanted winter wonderland spread across different zones and includes the Snowflake Garden, Flurries Mountain, and a Crystal Carousel. Its centrepiece is the Enchanted Tree, which soars above the park creating a wondrous and stunning visual attraction.

Snow Abu Dhabi

Expo 2020, Dubai
There are many inspiring pavilions at this year’s upcoming Expo 2020 but here are a few that I have highlighted as some of my favourites.

Italian Pavilion
What I like about the Italian Pavilion is the use of sustainable and recycled materials, such as orange peel, coffee grounds, mycelium, and recycled plastic collected from the oceans within its construction. Circular in nature the pavilion is designed so that nothing goes to waste and it can be reimagined in the future. It is a striking structure with a roof made from the upturned hulls of three ships with a flowing surface designed to reflect the sea and deserts. The base is formed by a giant sand dune made of sand from the Dubai desert.

Sweden Pavilion

Sweden Pavilion
Also adopting a nature-inspired design the Sweden Pavilion is based on the concept of forest and will be made entirely from wood. The whole ambience is one of the outdoors and is designed to give the feeling of walking through a Nordic forest while at the same time delivering a clear message of sustainability. Office and conference rooms are housed in tree houses high above the open plan ground floor area with clusters of trees forming enclosed spaces.

Brazil Pavilion
I particularly like the Brazil Pavilion, which makes creative use of wood and light to create a multi-functional space. It is designed to showcase the country’s diversity of landscape and inhabitants exploring the country’s historical dichotomy between man and nature. The central ‘Brazil square’ is a space for relaxation beneath a canopy of art installations, which is reached via the stairs along the terracotta sunscreen façade.