Expo 2020 – Design

Two middle aged men overlooking a giant building site in the desert look through design drawings on a piece of paper.

Direct Access was appointed the Universal Design Access Consultants for Expo 2020 Dubai, the first-ever world exposition to be held in the Middle East region. Working alongside numerous architectural and construction firms such as Grimshaws and Norman Fosters and Partners, the Direct Access team advised on the design, finish specifications, and ancillary aids required to make the 438-hectare area (1083 acres) site fully accessible to an estimated 25 million visitors over six months.

This included not just the public realm, parks, transportation, thematic districts, and pavilions but all the supporting infrastructure including back-of-house services, medical facilities, changing places, the ROVE hotel, sensory and quiet rooms, access to the RTA’s Metro and buses, two Dubai Police stations and a fire station.

Designs produced prior to 2017 were designed to the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards with 2017 onwards designs following the requirements of the new Dubai Universal Design Code, part of the Emirate of Dubai’s drive to create one of the world’s most accessible cities, as well as BS8300 standards.

From January 2019 Direct Access seconded a team to work within Guest Services to develop accessible programming and curation for the event. An initial audit of the customer journeys for People of Determination visitors covered both domestic and international visitors, each touch point was investigated, and partnerships were established to create a seamless journey. (People of determination is the term used in the United Arab Emirates for disabled people).

In addition to consulting on the 1080-acre site build, Direct Access was involved extensively in the post-build site management, supplied and installed hearing loops for deaf visitors, and provided over 160 evacuation chairs, along with comprehensive staff training.

An aerial view of the entire Expo 2020 Dubai site.

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