It’s official; after much consternation, Expo 2020 Dubai will instead run from the end of 2021 through 2022 as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The festival, as with many other international design events dependent on luring visitors from all over the world, has postponed due to the uncertainties around keeping their guests safe.
While AN first reported that festival organizers were considering postponing the worldwide design and technology showcase at the beginning of April, we also noted that the final decision rested with the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions, who administers the international expo. Two-thirds of the bureau’s member states quickly voted (remotely) to push the expo back a year over safety concerns on April 24, even though the United Arab Emirates has already spent $8 billion on related infrastructure projects.
“In their support for the one-year postponement of Expo 2020 Dubai,” reads a statement from Dimitri S. Kerkentzes, the bureau’s secretary-general, “Member States of the BIE are giving the world the opportunity to reconvene in 2021, when together, we can address the challenges facing humanity and celebrate the unity and solidarity that strengthen us. With its theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 Dubai will offer the world a unique platform to share the lessons, solutions and ideas for a better tomorrow.”
Expo 2020 Dubai will keep its now incongruous name and will run from October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022. The decision to move the festival will officially be ratified on May 29, the original closure of the voting period. With the extra time available, will countries rethink their pavilion ideas?
Meanwhile, the World Expo isn’t the only event getting moved this week. In Estonia, the sixth Tallinn Architecture Biennale has been pushed from September of 2021 all the way into 2022 (a worrying sign for Biennales and Biennials slated for next year). Part of the reason came down to the Venice Architecture Biennale being delayed another year.
“The peculiar times we live in has given us an extra year for the organisers and the head curator to prepare for the upcoming edition of TAB,” wrote Raul Järg, the director of the Estonian Centre for Architecture. “This ensures enough time for a high quality theme and a comprehensive programme. We hope that the teams who are participating in the curatorial competition understand the decision and are ready to contribute also in 2022.”
The head curator search Järg referred to is still ongoing; interested participants have until May 29 to submit to the competition, which is being held by the Estonian Centre for Architecture, the biennale’s organizers. No specific dates for the rescheduled biennale has been provided yet.