Architecture: the Italian Duplomatic MS opens the wings of the falcon for the UAE pavilion at Expo Dubai

It could be called an engineering masterpiece and in fact the central pavilion of the United Arab Emirates that will welcome visitors to the Dubai Universal Exposition – starting from 1 October 2021 – is a unique artwork of design and engineering.

Let’s start from the idea. The United Arab Emirates, host country of the Universal Exposition, have entrusted the construction of the central pavilion of the Exposition to the renowned architecture studio of Santiago Calatrava. The renowned architect took inspiration from the falcon, a well-known and respected bird of prey in the United Arab Emirates, which since ancient times have practiced falconry, a hunting practice recognized as a World Heritage by UNESCO. In fact, if the first evidence relating to falconry is located in the Middle Eastern environment, this practice then developed in different parts of the world but above all in Europe, becoming of primary importance at the European sovereign courts, an exclusive and sought-after privilege of the nobility. The falconers of the Arabian Peninsula are today among the most passionate, so much so that governments encourage and support the practice of falconry, considered an activity suited to the local elites, and do their utmost in the preservation of native birds of prey.
“The proposed design of the UAE Pavilion captures the story we want to tell the world about our nation,” said UAE Minister of State and National Media Council Chairman H.E. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber. “Our late founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan used falconry expeditions to forge connections between tribes and to create a distinct national identity which ultimately led to the founding of the United Arab Emirates. Now, the falcon design will symbolize how we are connecting the UAE to the minds of the world and how as a global community we can soar to new heights through partnership and cooperation.”

Calatrava wanted the central pavilion of the Exposition to resemble a falcon, offering the world an innovative and original design but not without considerable efforts in its realization. In fact, the pavilion, whose roof is developed resembling the shape of falcon wings, opens in the morning to welcome visitors just as the wings of a falcon open to take flight. In the evening, at the end of the exhibition day, the wings close on themselves. To move this complex structure weighing several tons, there is an advanced hydraulic system controlled by an equally innovative electronic system, developed by the Italian company Duplomatic MS.
“The pavilion designed by Santiago Calatrava,” explains to Expo Magazine Paolo Leuttenegger, General Manager of Duoplomatic MS, “is a work of art and the first major difficulty is represented by the translation of aesthetic and experiential requirements into technical and engineering requirements. The Expo project represents an important challenge for the growth of our group, both from a technical, logistical and organisational point of view. The development of the wing operating system of the UAE pavilion is unique in the world.”
The solution developed by Duplomatic MS consists of a power plant with an installed power of approximately 1 MW, 2 and a half Km of pressure pipes that “float” on the roof structure, thus making the system compatible with thermal expansion phenomena linked to temperature variations and reducing the transmission of vibrations to a minimum, 46 hydraulic cylinders positioned on the roof and responsible for opening the 28 wings in composite material and about 2000 control points that include valves of all kinds and sensors. To control all this, about 25 Km of wiring and 17 electrical panels are needed. The result is a fluid, harmonious, synchronised movement, that doesn’t disturb the aesthetics of the work.

The novelist Davide Amante interviewed on Expo Dubai declared: “The theme of the Dubai Universal Exposition, which will be held from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.
Dubai 2020 is the first Universal Exposition in history to take place in a country of the Arabian Peninsula, the United Arab Emirates. For this reason we should consider this Universal Exposition as an important historical step, which brings different cultures, different languages, different approaches to economy and different faiths to dialogue and confront on a common ground. I see in this particular exposition a very important historical moment. The event will involve 25 million expected visitors and over 200 languages ​​and cultures spoken on an area of ​​2 Square miles in the middle of the desert. It is an unmissable opportunity.
1851 London, 1855 Paris and then jumping ahead in the years to Vienna, Chicago, Milan in 2015: every four years the Universal Expositions stepped ahead, showcasing the great technological enterprises and leading companies, the design and engineering skills, as well as the creativity and relational dexterity of the participating Nations.
After all, Universal Expositions have always been a great moment for the participating nations to show the world their resources, affirm their strength in the geopolitical chessboard, weave international relations.”

The Dubai Universal Exposition will welcome visitors from 1st October 2021 until 31st March 2022.