Construction is well underway on the Canada Pavilion for Expo 2020 in Dubai, which will mark the first time Canada has participated in the World’s Fair since Expo 2020 in Shanghai.
The federal government’s Global Affairs Canada (GAC) department contracted the project to a consortium led by EllisDon Construction, with Toronto-based Moriyama & Teshima Architects behind the design. Other partners in the design, build, and operation contract entail Lord Cultural Resources, along with Hatch, Kubik, Thornton Tomasetti, NGX, and Cisco.
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According to GAC, the Canada Pavilion’s wooden structure is an architectural reproduction of the country’s landscapes, while also celebrating its diversity with the use of geometric lattice — an international cultural reference to the Mashrabiya, an element of Arabic architecture.
“Inspired by the drum, an instrument of choice for performance and storytelling around the world, the Canada Pavilion is a symbolic representation of collaboration between countries,” reads the design rationale.
“The circle shape of the pavilion is a universal symbol of unity, evoking the relationships humans have between each other and with the land.”
The cost of the pavilion’s construction is approximately $6 million.
The 15,000-sq-ft pavilion features a 360-degree theatre experience that brings guests on an immersive journey through Canada’s past, present, and future. Before the theatre, guests will be engaged in a preshow experience with light and sound.
Aside from the public presentation areas, the pavilion also includes a business area and an administrative and support area.
The pavilion has a mandate of showcasing Canadian innovation, promoting new business opportunities for Canadian companies, and attracting international investment to Canada.
Theme weeks at the Canada Pavilion include climate focus, urban development and cities focus, travel and exploration, sustainable development goals, health and wellness, innovation focus, agriculture and livelihood development focus, women and girls, and water.
Over 25 million visits are expected throughout the 173-day run of Expo 2020 from October 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021.
The Dubai World’s Fair site spans a footprint of 1,080 acres featuring 192 participating countries. The site is larger than Vancouver’s Stanley Park and New York City’s Central Park, over six times larger than Vancouver’s Expo ’86 site at False Creek and Coal Harbour (Canada Place was built as the Canada Pavilion), and nearly 11 times larger than Disneyland Park in Anaheim.
It is anticipated to be the largest World’s Fair since Shanghai.
But Canada did not participate in the specialized expos of 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea and 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, and the world-scale expo of 2015 in Milan, Italy.
In 2012, the previous federal government under former Primer Minister Stephen Harper withdrew Canada’s $250,000 annual membership in the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the intergovernmental organization that regulates the staging of World’s Fairs. Canada rejoined the BIE under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The upcoming World’s Fair in 2023 at Buenos Aires, Argentina is a specialized expo, while 2025 at Osaka will be a world-scale expo.