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Star architect Asif Khan’s surreal entry portals

News International-French

12 Feb 2020

Star architect Asif Khan’s surreal entry portals to Expo 2020 are an experience in their own right

The gateways to Expo 2020 Dubai: portals into another world

The gateways to Expo 2020 Dubai: portals into another world

When is a door more than a humble door? In the hands of an architect as revered as Asif Khan, the answer is three spellbinding entry portals, where doors becomes metaphors, gateways and transitional points that are equal parts design genius and philosophical back story.

Star architect Asif Khan
Asif Khan said:

"I wanted to create a mashraybiya like no other, for it to be impossibly thin and impossibly light, like a drawing in the sky, and at such a scale that it could become an architecture in itself. There was only one material that is capable of producing this effect, and that is carbon fibre."


Celebrated surrealist Khan – the British architectural mastermind has conceptualised and created for the first time what will be the entrances at a tradeshow. Khan was previously known for works that include the darkest building in the world, and MegaFaces, a pavilion with a kinetic façade at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that used 11,000 full colour LEDs to recreate the faces of visitors to the building.

Carbon-fibre ribbon, formed of thousands of ultra-thin carbon fibres, was wrapped around a rotating arm that doubles as formwork in a 3D-weaving process

Carbon-fibre ribbon, formed of thousands of ultra-thin carbon fibres, was wrapped around a rotating arm that doubles as formwork in a 3D-weaving process

Now, however, comes what Khan describes as his “best work” yet. He presents three stark, stunning, perception-shifting entryways to the expansive event site that will create different experiences depending on the time of day, inventively playing with light and myriad shadows. Each portal has a set of two 21-metre-tall doors.

Inspired by Arabic mashrabiya architecture, the portals comprise a structure that is at once a series of two-dimensional planes as well as a three-dimensional geometric configuration.

The portals are as remarkable from an engineering standpoint as they are visually. Using a unique process, high-grade carbon fibre and resin was spun into strands so fine they could circumnavigate the world 5,000 times over if laid end to end. Yet those strands retain the structural strength to support a four-wheel-drive vehicle (should the need arise).

Nothing of their ilk has ever been seen in the world before – a unique celebration of art, culture, music, architecture, technology and a once-in-a-lifetime showcase of human brilliance and achievement.

High-grade carbon fibre and resin was spun into strands so fine they could circumnavigate the world 5,000 times over if laid end to end.

High-grade carbon fibre and resin was spun into strands so fine they could circumnavigate the world 5,000 times over if laid end to end.

The Asif Khan's interview and pictures are extracted from the expo2020dubai.com and dezeen.com website with editorial changes made by JEC Group.