Dubai Expo 2020: Al Wasl Plaza Utility Building Aluminum Cladding

In November 2019, CAS Engineers had the pleasure to work on the Al Wasl Plaza Utility Building Aluminum Cladding for the Dubai Expo 2020 with the ABIYA company in Dubai. The 330 sq.m. utility building has aluminum cladding on all sides with varying heights fixed into structural steel frames which then bolted onto the main structure. Our teams had the responsibility to do structural analysis and design calculations for decorative façade claddings which composed of structural steel frames and aluminum panels.

Dubai Expo 2020

The Dubai Expo 2020 is a World Expo to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, originally scheduled to open on October 20, 2020, and to end on April 10, 2021 but now postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case Study Dubai Expo 2020The Al Wasl Plaza Utility Building is part of the Al Wasl Plaza, the heart of Expo 2020 Dubai site. The 150-meter diameter Al Wasl Plaza is designed as a central hub for the exposition. The space will bring people of all backgrounds together to “Connect Mind,” a key ambition of the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region. Al Wasl is the historical name for Dubai but also means “connection” in Arabic., reflecting both Dubai’s goal of bringing people together at the Expo and the plaza’s physical location at the heart of the site.

The plaza will connect the three thematic districts – Opportunity, Sustainability, and Mobility – as well as the other main concourses, including the Dubai Metro link and the UAE Pavilion, through its seven entrances and exits.

The plaza is topped by a 65-meter-high domed trellis that was inspired by the shape of the Expo 2020 Dubai logo and will act as an immersive 360-degree projection surface. As the dome is translucent, the projection will be visible to both those inside and out of the covered plaza. Numerous other features in the plaza include restaurants, fountains, and parks.

CAS Scope of Work

CAS Engineers conducted a design evaluation and study of their proposed decorative façade aluminum cladding panels. These decorative aluminum panels are to be attached to structural steel frames which then bolted to the main structure, Al Wasl Utility Building, on all sides including the rooftop.

The structural steel frames used are RHS100X50X3mm and SHS80X80X3mm. Each frame is interconnected with 6mm thick plates bolted together to form the façade. These steel frames are arranged in 1200mm X2400mm spacing such that they match the aluminum panel dimension. The bolts used are M8 Fixanker W-FA Wurth bolts for the roof plinth and M7 W-FRA plastic Wurth bolts for the steel frame to frame connections. The roof plinth is anchored on to a 350x350x400mm concrete block.

Our Design Methodology

Case Study Dubai Expo 2020CAS Engineers modeled every steel frame using a finite element capable software to capture the actual performance of each of the steel frames when subjected to loadings such as dead load or the structure’s weight itself, the wind pressure, and the combination thereof. The structure was subjected to a 160kph wind speed applied to the two orthogonal directions.

Our teams performed the analysis and design using the finite element analysis (FEA) method using the proposed section. The result was satisfactory except for the geometrical limitations that the proposed section thickness has. Then, the thickness was increased and the analysis and design was iterated to satisfy the constraints. Finally the appropriate design sections came up, and CAS teams informed the client of  recommended and final steel frame sections to implement and revise in their proposed plans.


To be able to capture the real-life condition of a structure before it’s even constructed, we use the state-of-the-art structural design programs to imitate the actual scenarios and fix any potential failure and hazard it can cause to the public. This is the way to reduce both the client’s cost of construction as well as to essentially cut the cost for maintenance of the structure and ease of mind for the public’s sake. We value both client’s investment as well as the general public’s safety.