Es Devlin wins competition for UK Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020

Es Devlin UK Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020
Artist and designer Es Devlin has been selected to create the UK Pavilion at the 2020 Dubai Expo
(Image credit: Es Devlin)

London-based designer Es Devlin has just been announced as the winner of the large-scale competition for the design of the UK pavilion at the upcoming World Expo, set to take place in 2020 in Dubai. The awardwinning creative, who has also been behind world class events such as the London Olympics closing ceremony and recently staged a poetry-spouting neon lion in Trafalgar Square, has created a structure centred on British expertise in artificial intelligence and space, entitled ‘The Poem Pavilion'. 

Few commissions are more prestigious than the those where a designer is called to represent the creativeness and business sense of a whole nation; the World Expos have been a playground for architectural experimentation ever since their introduction in the 19th century. More recently, Thomas Heatherwick's ‘Seed Cathedral' in Shanghai and Asif Khan's 2017 pavilion in Astana are key examples of temporary structures with a permanent place in the collective cultural memory. 

Light and technology

Brand experience agency Avantgarde will be behind the pavilion's production. 

(Image credit: Es Devlin)

Working with her signature combination of light and technology, the artist conceived the pavilion as a device that will be set up to transmit a ‘message to space’. Each of the Expo’s anticipated 25 million visitors will be invited to contribute to the message, making this a truly collective effort.

‘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 inviting 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', says Devlin. ‘What if the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 becomes a place where visitors from all over the world take part in a collective global project that showcases British expertise in A.I. technologies and poetry while transcending national identities?'

Devlin will work with brand experience agency Avantgarde, who will take on the project's production. Structural engineers Atelier One and award-winning sustainability engineers Atelier Ten will also be involved in bringing this ambitious design to life.

The design is inspired by British expertise in artificial intelligence and space

Es Devlin designs UK Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020

Devlin's pavilion is set up to ‘send a message to space'

(Image credit: Es Devlin)

Es Devlin wins UK Pavilion Dubai Expo 2020

The structure will be entitled ‘The Poem Pavilion'

(Image credit: Es Devlin)


For more information visit the website of Es Devlin

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).