UK space technology to feature at Expo 2020 Dubai

The cone-shaped UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will highlight the UK’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and space technology.

Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region, and will be held on a purpose-built site in Dubai South district from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

The UK Pavilion’s theme at Expo 2020 Dubai is ‘Innovating for a Shared Future’.

The pavilion will convey the story of how the UK’s role in AI and the space sector is impacting humanity.

AI use

The pavilion will use AI and machine learning to generate space-related words and phrases, amalgamating them with those contributed by visitors, to deliver a collective poetry display on the pavilion’s façade.

The pavilion’s overall design is inspired by ‘Breakthrough Message’, a project of late UK physicist Stephen Hawking.

Adhering to Hawking’s project concept, the pavilion invites visitors to consider what message humankind would communicate to express themselves as a planet, should humans ever encounter advanced alien civilisations in space.

British artist and designer Es Devlin (OBE) has designed the UK Pavilion. Credit: UK Pavilion
British artist and designer Es Devlin (OBE) has designed the UK Pavilion. Credit: UK Pavilion

 

The pavilion will animate its façade with scrolling LED words contributed by the Expo’s anticipated 25 million visitors.

The 20-metre-high pavilion will comprise of rows of protruding slats that extend outwards from a central point, to form a circular façade.

Visitors will enter the pavilion through an illuminated maze of aspiration.

Featuring augmented reality-enhanced exhibitions, the maze will entertain and educate visitors about the UK’s advances in AI and space technology.

Inside the pavilion is the choral space, which will be filled with a collective choral soundtrack, including choirs from every continent.

Formed of layers of CNC-cut cross laminated timber populated with LEDs, the experience of entering this interior space will be akin to entering the resonating chamber of a wooden musical instrument.

The pavilion’s maze of aspiration will also explore wider innovations and collaborations as well as show how some of the UK’s partners address the pavilion’s theme for the six-month-long Expo.

Just before visitors enter the immersive space of the pavilion, they will be invited to submit an individual word to a collective message in the choral space.

As they step into the choral space, visitors will be cocooned in a soundscape, with the music featuring voices and sounds from all over the world.

Formed of layers of CNC-cut cross laminated timber populated with LEDs, the experience of entering the UK Pavilion's choral space will be akin to entering the resonating chamber of a wooden musical instrument. Credit: UK Pavilion
Formed of layers of CNC-cut cross laminated timber populated with LEDs, the experience of entering the UK Pavilion’s choral space will be akin to entering the resonating chamber of a wooden musical instrument. Credit: UK Pavilion

 

As they leave the pavilion visitors will get to look back at the façade and read the collective message that they have helped to create.

Award-winning British artist and designer Es Devlin (OBE) has designed the UK Pavilion.

Devlin is known globally for her sculptural installations and for creating exceptional large-scale performative sculptures that fuse technology and poetry.

Commenting on her design of the UK Pavilion and what she hopes it will achieve, Devlin said: “The idea draws directly on one of Stephen Hawking’s final projects, ‘Breakthrough Message’, a global competition that Hawking and his colleagues conceived in 2015.

“The project invited people worldwide to consider what message we would communicate to express ourselves as a planet, should we one day encounter other advanced civilisations in space.”

The pavilion is produced by the London and Dubai-based global brand experience agency Avantgarde.

Avantgarde will be responsible for the coordination and overall creative production across interactive, exhibition and digital experiences of the pavilion.

Manchester-based structural engineer Atelier One and sustainability engineer Atelier Ten will deliver the complex sculptural architecture of the pavilion.

The Department for International Trade is leading the UK government’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai, with cross-government support.

Expo 2020 Dubai offers the UK a significant opportunity to communicate directly with millions of people.

This will strengthen British soft power and enhancing the UK’s reputation on a global stage.

CGI of the purpose-built Expo 2020 Dubai site in Dubai South district. The UK Pavilion is located in the Opportunity district of the Expo site. Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai
CGI of the purpose-built Expo 2020 Dubai site in Dubai South district. The UK Pavilion is located in the Opportunity district of the Expo site. Credit: Expo 2020 Dubai

 

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, Executive Director, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The UK Pavilion will be an intriguing platform for people to learn, have fun and work together, to discover innovations and explore new frontiers in areas, including space and Artificial Intelligence.”

The UK Pavilion is located in the Opportunity district of the Expo 2020 Dubai site.

The word ‘Opportunity’ derives from the Latin Ob (towards) and Portus (a port). This is a seafaring term – inscribing in the language of an ancient trading nation (Britain), whose seaports are destined to be supplemented with the Sutherland spaceport – the UK’s first commercial spaceport in 2022.

The global Covid-19 pandemic delayed the UAE from hosting Expo 2020 Dubai.

The mega event was originally scheduled to be held from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.