By Gavin Gibbon
Fifty traditional Emirati benches are planned for the Expo site, which take the form of Arabic script
Visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai looking forward to exploring the 600-hectare site can choose to relax and take the weight off their feet – and also learn the local dialect – on specially created benches.
There are 50 traditional Emirati benches planned for the expo site, which take the form of Arabic script for words such as love, peace and happiness. The choice of words was crowdsourced, while Lebanese designer Lara Captan, completed the typography.
Asif Khan, the world famous award-winning designer of the public realm at Expo 2020 Dubai, told Arabian Business: “If you imagine walking through this public realm and sitting on these benches, you would be stringing together a kind of poem with the words that you’ve sat on. And also the meaning of the words, you sit on something that is say, the word friendship, what we tried to do is turn the form into something that makes you behave in a friendly manner. That’s about looking inwards and being with a group of people.
“Whereas other words, which were more about contemplation or dreaming for example, the word to dream we’ve made it so people can lie down and it’s soft and they can think and there’s a soundtrack people can listen to, to get in the zone and think about the future and think about themselves.
“Everything’s quite interactive.”
The public realm at the expo site stretches over six kilometres and includes over 10,000 trees and plants, as well as ‘sabeel’-inspired water fountains, signage based on the traditional UAE sadu weaving and shading columns that are the exact same colour as the trunk of a ghaf tree, as imagined by Emirati artist Abdulqadr al-rais, who collaborated on the project.
Khan said: “The public realm means everything that you see and walk on and touch that isn’t an international pavilion or isn’t an F&B outlet. It’s the glue that connects the whole expo together and it’s often the bit that’s silent in these projects, it’s like the gaps that are left over that get filled with asphalt or something like that.
“Here we had a very different aspiration and the leadership here, Reem Al Hashimi, she was always talking about the public realm as the largest pavilion on the expo site. It’s really the home pavilion. It’s a place where we should try to express and I really wanted to express something that is inspired by the region, inspired by the geography, inspired by the stories, the language and the materials.”