Millions of visitors will have access to fresh drinking water from innovative drinking fountains across the Expo 2020 site, thanks to two UAE-based design teams.
The winners have been selected to showcase their innovative blends of contemporary art and Emirati heritage through creative interpretations of the traditional drinking fountain – sabeel.
The winning designs of the Sabeel 2020 design contest were submitted by Architecture + Other Things and design team Faissal El-Malak and Alia Bin Omair. Multidisciplinary firm Tinkah also received an honourable mention in the competition.
Each of the winning parties will receive a prize of AED 100,000, and the designers will have the opportunity to work with world-class Expo 2020 architects and engineers to adapt their interpretations into 53 fountains across the Expo 2020 site.
Seven internationally respected jurors from the world of art, design and architecture assessed 20 shortlisted submissions based on criteria such as the strength of the concept, both artistically and technically; consideration of the architecture and environment of the site; visitor usability; interpretation of the sabeel concept; and technical and budgetary feasibility.
Launched in July 2019, the Sabeel 2020 initiative called on the regional creative community to submit concepts that reimagine the sabeel – to celebrate a cultural icon in the region and provide fresh drinking water to visitors during the six months of the World’s Greatest Show.
The collaboration between Expo 2020 and Art Jameel aimed to engage designers, architects, artists and other UAE-based creatives, plus international practitioners with a strong connection to the UAE. Through the open call, Expo 2020 received more than 100 proposals.
Providing relief to passers-by and travellers and symbolising our collective humanity, the community drinking fountain is a visual marker for the UAE, reflecting the country’s heritage and its spirit of hospitality, tolerance and generosity.