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Expo 2020 calls for UAE residents to create its water fountains in design competition

Open call for creatives to design Expo 2020’s drinking fountains ends on September 10

Art Jameel and Expo 2020 have teamed up to give UAE-based creatives an opportunity to make their mark at the upcoming World Expo event in Dubai.

The competition Sabeel 2020 calls on designers, architects, artists and other creatives to propose innovative designs for the sabeel, or traditional drinking fountains rooted in Islamic architecture and found throughout the region.

The open call extends to UAE nationals and residents, as well as international practitioners who have a keen interest and connection to the country. This includes former residents or those who have been previously involved in the UAE’s cultural scene.

Submissions will accepted until September 10.

A jury of renowned architects and designers will select up to three winning designs, with a prize money of AED100,000 for each winner.

More importantly, the designs will be funded and produced by Expo 2020, and at least 45 fountains will installed across the Expo 2020 district for visitors to use. The fountains will then become permanent fixtures in the area.

Art Jameel, an organisation focused on arts and culture, has been tasked with curating and managing the competition, putting together a team of seven jurors from around the world.

These include Nasser Abdulhasan, an architect and co-founder of AGi architects; Christopher Turner, who is Keeper of Design, Architecture and Digital at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Hani Asfour, architect and Dean of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation; Manal Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority; and Shumon Basar, a writer, curator and Commissioner of Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum.

The jurors will take into consideration both the aesthetic and functional aspects of the submissions. According to the Sabeel 2020 website, the visual elements of the design must be “iconic in nature”, while still considering usability and public safety standards.

There are also technical requirements to think about, including the capacity for the design to handle high volume of usage, as Expo 2020 projects 150,000 daily visitors for the event.

It is an initiative that asks applicants to draw from various fields of knowledge, including architecture, sculpture and product design. At the same time, they must also incorporate Expo 2020’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.

Applicants are asked to submit concept and technical drawings of their proposed design, a draft budget and statement that explains their work.

The full list of requirements can be found on the Sabeel 2020 website. The winners will announced in November.