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Showcasing Australia on a global stage – Turner & Townsend

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Expo 2020 Dubai, which opened in October 2021 and runs until March 2022, is one of the first events of its scale to be held since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have been engaged on the Australia Pavilion since February 2018. It showcases Australia’s credentials as a world-class place to do business, invest, study and visit, and offers visitors an immersive journey in exploring Australia’s diversity and ingenuity.
As the project management and cost consultant on the project, we managed the design and build contractor throughout the commission, from design and construction through to project close-out and handover.
We speak to Justin McGowan, Commissioner General of Australia, Expo 2020 Dubai, (pictured) to understand in more detail the pavilion’s world-class Australian design, its purpose, aspiration, and how the pavilion pays homage to a nation built on mobility.
Q. Can you tell us more about your role on the Australia Pavilion project?
I’ve been working with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade since 2009 and have spent the last few years leading Australia’s presence at Expo 2020 Dubai in the role of Commissioner General of Australia.
Q. What has been the highlight of creating the Australia Pavilion, from initial design to opening?
From day one, our focus has been on showcasing Australian capabilities by celebrating our ingenuity and creativity, collaboration, and innovation.
Expo 2020 Dubai provides an opportunity for us to pursue trade and investment prospects and showcase economic, export and education opportunities while celebrating our unique natural and cultural attractions.
A key moment in our journey was the positive international appreciation the Australian Pavilion received at launch.
Q. What are you most proud of?
The Australian Pavilion has turned out to be one of Expo 2020 Dubai’s must-see attractions, not only because of its design and its signature look and feel but also because it offers outstanding visitor experiences and learning opportunities. Every pavilion design feature and furnishing is entwined with stories of Australian invention, talent, and creativity.
The open layout of the pavilion welcomes guests to a sanctuary where they can take respite and enjoy food, drink, and entertainment in the shade.
Q. How does Expo 2020 Dubai and the Australia Pavilion showcase Australia as a nation?
Expo 2020 Dubai showcases Australia as a welcoming, innovative, and diverse nation and creates awareness of Australians as connected optimists, founded upon a 60,000-year heritage of Indigenous innovation.
The best of Australia is on show to the world at Expo 2020 Dubai and we are keen to grow trade and investment relationships and unlock global business opportunities.
Expo 2020 Dubai is an integral part of Australia’s post-COVID economic and social recovery and allows the nation easy access to 3.2 billion people with a collective GDP of USD432.6bn in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.  The Australian Pavilion is attracting business and government delegations from 192 participating countries at the Expo.
Q. How does the Australia Pavilion echo the country’s distinctive culture and landscape?
The pavilion theme, Blue Sky Dreaming, encapsulates Australian optimism and creativity. It celebrates Australian diversity and collaboration and envisions a future of infinite possibilities founded on 60,000 years of indigenous innovation.
The theme is depicted in the design of the Australian Pavilion. Its roof is a gleaming white canopy inspired by the large, fluffy clouds that make up Australia’s iconic big blue skylines.
The large cumulus cloud is a common feature of Australia’s expansive horizons and is a recognisable sign of good weather. It hovers over a welcoming forecourt that takes the visitor into an immersive journey of Australia.  
Q. What does the visitor experience involve?
The Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai creates an incredible sensory journey, developed by some of the world’s finest storytellers. Visitors enjoy a series of immersive and dream-like exhibition experiences, inspired by aspects of the Australian landscape, culture and creativity.
At night, the forecourt comes to life as the cloud canopy is illuminated with a dynamic display of light and sound designed to mimic the ancient and rugged landscapes of Australia.
Q. How do you foresee the venue inspiring and influencing new construction developments?
Throughout the construction of the pavilion, we have taken special care to include traditional materials and design elements native to Australia.
We have conformed to the most advanced standards in sustainability and green technologies and are grateful to our partners who have worked alongside us to provide innovative solutions at every turn.
Q. Can you tell us about some of the sustainability aspects of the pavilion?
The Australian Pavilion is designed to have the lowest carbon footprint possible. Sustainability is an important focus for the pavilion, and we have taken special care of this aspect during the build and in operations during Expo.
Lois Ackerley
Business Generation Middle East
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© 2022 Turner & Townsend

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