united arab emirates-based design practice MEAN* (middle east architecture network) has proposed a sculptural 3D-printedpavilion for a prominent traffic roundabout to welcome visitors to the upcoming 2020 expo in dubai. designed as a ‘spatial forest,’ the soaring 8-meter structure reveals a walk-through ‘spatial forest’ of concrete elements that resemble palm trees.


‘based on the vision of his highness sheikh mohammad bin rashid al maktoum, we aspire to make dubai the 3D printing capital of the world,’ MEAN* explains. ‘we have designed a structure specifically for 3D printing in concrete.’


‘we believe that expo 2020 would be a fantastic platform to showcase the possibilities of this emerging construction technology to the world.’

MEAN* proposes 3D-printed 'concrete forest' for dubai expo 2020

images courtesy of MEAN*



employing robotically 3D printed concrete construction MEAN* saved on material waste by reducing the amount of form-work involved in the process of casting. it also provided made for a cleaner construction site, all while allowing for a higher degree of complexity in design.


the concrete 3D printed elements generate energy during daytime hours via transparent, bespoke solar panels attached to their tops. at night, they become animated with various lighting modes, intended to welcome the visitors to the event. the footings of the concrete elements are fitted with hidden LED lighting, that is programmed to glow with various patterns.

MEAN* proposes 3D-printed 'concrete forest' for dubai expo 2020



the expo 2020 landmark is designed to withstand the harsh desert climate with very little maintenance. it takes its inspiration from bio-mimetic performance and uses a self-reliant energy generator that absorbs the abundant sun energy to power itself.


solar panels are fitted around 360° at the center of the roundabouts, to capture the maximum amount of energy throughout the day, and tilted to expel sand from sandstorms. the 3d printed shell components can be cast in site with UHPC (ultra high-performance concrete) to effectively withstand the shear symbolizes forces acting upon them.


‘the expo 2020 landmark structure is designed to serve as a reminder that the world’s fair site is built for generations to come,’ the studio adds. ‘an urban connection between dubai and abu dhabi and a model of the innovative cities of the future.’

MEAN* proposes 3D-printed 'concrete forest' for dubai expo 2020



project info


studio: MEAN*
project: boulevard roundabout pavilion
type: temporary pavilion
event: dubai 2020 expo
location: dubai
status: proposal