Friday, March 1, 2024

World’s fairs stimulate design & construction related business and innovation

In Kazakhstan and the UAE, world’s fairs are rising.  Astana [Kazakhstan] Expo 2017 is less than 400 days away; Dubai Expo 2020 is already under construction. Meanwhile, in Turkey, Antalya Expo 2016, a 6-month international horticultural exposition, has been underway since April 23. It shares many characteristics of a world’s fair and is overseen by the same entity, the Paris-based Bureau of International Expositions (BIE).  All of this follows the highly successful Expo Milano 2015.

Story by James Ogul, InPark World’s Fair editor

In addition to reaching audiences in the the tens of millions, world’s fairs and international expositions provide excellent business opportunities, and inspire innovation. They are major construction sites, and furnish an international showcase not only for the host region and participants, but for the architects, designers and related industries that create the structures, exhibits, and all facets of the guest experience.

Antalya’s Expo Tower

At Antalya Expo 2016, TACA Construction installed the Expo Tower which serves as the centerpiece of the site. TACA Construction, headquartered in Istanbul builds hotels, hospitals, convention centers, and shopping malls in the Middle East and Africa and has international partners and offices in the United States, Libya, Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Photo at top from TACA Construction.

The Expo Tower is 120-meters tall and has an observation terrace, exhibition hall and cafe on the ground level. The construction of the building was completed in a speedy nine months using a system wherein the top section was built on the ground and lifted by cranes into place. (It was estimated that had more traditional methods been used, construction would have taken about two years.)

Dubai Expo 2020 aerial view, courtesy the Expo

Dubai: $6.9B worth of construction

For Dubai Expo 2020, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) is building three 132/11 kilovolt (kV) substations with 45 km of high-voltage (132kV) cables in support of the Expo, according to a report in Trade Arabia. The total cost of the electricity projects will be Dh420 million ($114.318 M). The substations will  support Dubai Expo’s theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and its three sub-themes of sustainability, mobility and opportunity and are named as such.

For the Dubai Expo 2020 site in general, construction costs (including extensions to roads and the Dubai Metro) have been put at $6.9 billion.  Building work on the Expo site itself will involve the development of a 4.4- square-kilometer plot at Dubai World Central (DWC) next to the new Al-Maktoum International airport in Jebel Ali. The work will result in contracts to build 700,000 sq meters of pavilions and other venue space, and 500,000 sq m of permanent structures.

Aerial rendering of site for Astana Expo 2017, courtesy the Expo.
Aerial rendering of site for Astana Expo 2017, courtesy the Expo

Astana: 80 pavilions to design and build

At Astana Expo 2017 more than 80 countries are signed up to participate and each will issue numerous contracts for their respective pavilions.  The British, for instance have issued an RFP for their pavilion with a preliminary budget of 2M GBP. The following is an excerpt from their scope of work for a design contract:

“UK Trade & Investment are seeking a multi-disciplinary integrated design team to deliver comprehensive design services

The award winning, Wolfgang Buttress designed UK Pavilion for Expo 2015 Milan, "The Hive" has been awarded was relocated to Kew Gardens after closing day
The award winning, Wolfgang Buttress designed UK Pavilion for Expo 2015 Milan, “The Hive” was relocated to Kew Gardens after closing day

for the UK Pavilion at the Astana EXPO 2017 in Kazakhstan. The Pavilion shall be constructed within an existing building and will comprise visitor experience and supporting accommodation & facilities. The main scope of services comprises provision of the Developed Design, including 2D/3D, AV, interactive and graphic design including all necessary aspects of architectural, structural and services engineering (mechanical, electrical, plumbing). The appointed team will act as the Employer’s Design Team and develop the design sufficiently for the procurement of a Design & Build Contractor.”

Not all pavilions will have this large a budget, but 80 plus pavilions combined will generate a very large amount of contract work in the coming months leading up to opening. In the creation of a world expo, design contracts are typically followed by contracts for construction, security, maintenance, cleaning, guide services and more.

James Ogul
James Ogul

Future expos and more opportunity

Meanwhile, even more future business opportunities at world’s fairs beckon – as Minnesota formulates a bid for a 2023 Expo, and numerous cities – including Toronto, Rotterdam and Paris – prepare to compete to host Expo 2025.

Read more about the business of world’s fairs and world’s fair pavilions in James Ogul’s book Tales from the Expo, free online at InPark

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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