Award-winning artist and designer Es Devlin will create the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Entitled The Poem Pavilion, it will highlight leading British expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and space.
Devlin is known for creating large-scale performative sculptures that fuse technology, poetry, light and sound, and the pavilion features an illuminated Message To Space, to which each of the Expo’s anticipated 25 million visitors will be invited to contribute.
She said: “The idea draws directly on one of Stephen Hawking’s final projects, Breakthrough Message, a global competition that Hawking and his colleagues conceived in 2015, inviting people worldwide to consider what message we would communicate to express ourselves as a planet, should we one day encounter other advanced civilisations in space.
“What if the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 becomes a place where visitors from all over the world take part in a collective global project that showcases British expertise in AI technologies and poetry while transcending national identities?”
It will be the first time since its inception in 1851 that the UK Pavilion has been conceived by a woman designer.
Devlin said: “We urgently need to address the under-representation of women in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) occupations.
“I’ve learned from my collaboration with the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, that the evolution of scientific thought is often through the contribution of artists, musicians and philosophers as well as physicists.
“My hope is that the fusion of architecture, poetry, music and science in this female-led project will attract and inspire girls and young women to investigate areas of science and technology that they might otherwise have felt weren’t for them.”
The project will be produced by the London and Dubai-based global brand experience agency Avantgarde.
The Department for International Trade will lead the UK Government’s presence with cross-government support.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said: “The quality of design proposals we received for the UK Pavilion were testament to the UK’s world leading creative talent and I’m confident that Es Devlin OBE and the team will help us take advantage of this unique opportunity to showcase the very best of British to a truly global audience.
“Over six months, my international economic department will help connect with more than 25 million Expo visitors, that’s 25 million buyers for our products, partners for our firms, tourists for our cities and students for our universities.
“This announcement follows a competitive tender process which saw a number of leading designers and firms form consortia to bid for the multi-million-pound contract, and we are grateful for their submissions.”