UK Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai – final shortlist

Experience Design for Visitor Participation

Nueral Nexus (working title: Nuerons) is an MYAA Architects led submission: a response to a call for entries by the UK Department of Industry and Trade, to the UK Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Nueral nexus narrative is inspired by flow of ideas between external stimuli, minds across academia, industry and third sector in the UK, that lead to accidents of Innovation. This visitor experience is a celebration of  British inclusive global cognitive hub of innovation.

To visually reference key points in the visitor journey so as to have broad appeal, we gave consideration to how visitors might connect with UK Pavilion Expo 2020 Dubai, relative to the UK’s Innovation ecosystem.

How might we consider perspectives of various visitor personas, through cultural and social pathways to British Innovation? Responding to these challenges depend on prototype led visitor engagement as much as it does diversity inherent in Britain’s Innovation ecosystem.

We took a decision to investigate social and cultural pathways to ecosystems that lend themselves to open feedback loops i.e. export market needs and capabilities in sectors that can be supported with British Innovation. Key sectors that reinforce each other in this context include education; artificial intelligence infrastructure; transport; manufacturing; healthcare; circular economy; digital content and platforms.

Developing and developed economies grapple with access, and how to use feedback loops from these sectors, as economic growth and quality of life catalysts. Here is a pathway to export impact: culture, trade and development, in our view. At this point of the submission process we were building our hypothesis to validate a logic framework.

Design thinking behind this project is a participatory effort between multiple disciplines and perspectives. Mix of specialisations include narrative environments; user research; event communications; experiential event design; lighting design; architecture, engineering and project management.

We ran a series of design sprints to evolve behind the scenes processes, functional, scenic and physical cues which complete a holistic visitor experience, as a nexus of Britain’s Innovation ecosystem:  A Nueral Nexus for an international audience to interact with, and visualise potential use cases of the UK as an inclusive global cognitive hub of Innovation.


Header photograph: DIT / MYAA Archives. Photographs by Ayodeji Alaka: taken at Design Showcase hosted by the Department of International Trade on 05.11.18 at the Victoria and Albert Museum London, to promote winning entry and finalists.




Project Team

MYAA Designers: Ada Yvars Bravo, Ali Mangera, Victor Aylagas, Andrea Ottaviani, WSP Engineers: Charlotte Cameron, Sam Smith, KBW Event Experience: Obebe Ojeifo, Event Communications: Mark Irving, Imperial College Innovation: Dr. Sunday Popoola, Ayodeji Alaka, Paul Nulty Lighting Designers: Emilio Hernandez, Project Management: Ian Sandland. Citations: University of Sheffield - Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge - Department of Architecture, University of Bath - Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Bartlett School of Architecture - UCL, University of Nottingham - Department of Engineering, University of Manchester - Department of Architecture, University of Lincoln - School of Architecture and The Built Environment, Strathclyde University - Architecture at the School of Engineering, Coventry University - Department of Architecture, UWE Bristol - Department of Architecture, Product, Ceramic and Industrial Design Programme @ Central Saint Martins (University of The Arts), London, Imperial College London - Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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