Sharjah: Visitors to the highly anticipated Expo 2020 will be able to interact with and explore the work of three students from the College of Architecture, Art and Design (CAAD) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), who have recently been awarded up to 20,000 Euros each to develop their projects as part of the Design Competition Expo Dubai 2020.

The competition aims to bring together young designers under the age of 35 and companies based in Lombardy, Italy to create innovative projects that will be displayed in both Dubai at Expo 2020 and in various important venues across Italy. 

Twenty projects received the coveted prize in an award ceremony during Milan Design Week last month, each being eligible to receive up to 20,000 Euros (AED 82,500) to produce their projects, which will serve as “connecting spaces” between the main pavilions on the Dubai Expo 2020 site.

AUS architecture students Nohair Elmessalami, Sarah AlMaddah and Omer Alraee collaborated with other young international designers and Lombardy-based companies to create their winning projects.

Each of the AUS students initially developed ideas for the competition while enrolled in the senior architecture studio Fight-or-Flight: Models of Design under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Architecture Gregory Spaw.

“It is an incredible achievement for any architect or designer to be part of an event as important as the World Expo, especially considering the kind of global exposure they will receive,” said Spaw.

“Because of this initiative, CAAD students have had the opportunity to collaborate with international students, designers and fabricators to present truly world-class entries, and we are thrilled with the results,” he said.

Layers was designed by Nohair Elmessalami in partnership with Jiyoon Kim and in collaboration with Lombardy-based Alitim Laser Srl. The structure is comprised of a series of partition walls and a canopy that will, over time, become a one-of-a-kind public art piece, inspired by the concept of sticker exchange.

“Sticker exchange is a common activity that takes place in many regions in Europe. Stickers in Italy can be found on light poles, signs and even walls. This simple activity allows for communication between people from different backgrounds and of different ages. In that region, sticker exchange acts as a tool for marketing or self-expression. This simple yet interesting idea was incorporated into the project to act as a universal language that connects people. The pavilion is designed to allow for social intervention by behaving as a blank canvas for people to modify,”” said Elmessalami.

Sarah AlMaddah created MONDINE in partnership with Isato Gariel Prugger, Sarah Joy Giacomelli and Alberto Ciccale and in collaboration with Met Company Srl. The sculptural installation aspired to represent ears of rice swaying in the fields of northern Italy’s Po Valley, drawing on the commonalities found between Italian and UAE culinary traditions.

“This project is a symbolic narration of the profound relationship of respect and sharing between our two countries,” said AlMaddah.

“Each base of the installation houses three semi-rigid structures cradled by the wind. At sunset, these ‘ears’ will be internally lit, acting as kinetic sculptures, lighting fixtures and way-finding elements. The lighting of the three structures is powered by a LED RGB, which, depending on the type of the function performed, can take on a different color. MONDINE will stand tall in Expo 2020 to greet its visitors and share its story,” she said.

Corolla was created by Omer Alraee in partnership with Ofir Elazar Albag and Martin Huba, and in collaboration with Maco Technology Srl. It is an innovative prototype for a weather-responsive coworking pod.

“Using soft-robotic principles, we developed a lightweight and flexible skin that is able to adapt itself to changing outdoor conditions. Corolla is a technological oasis; it is a hybrid between indoor and outdoor, providing a comfortable and efficient space for meeting, working and sharing ideas all year round, and in any location,” said Alraee.

The Design Competition Expo Dubai 2020 is promoted by the Lombardy Regional Authority, the Chamber of Commerce of Milan-Monza-Brianza-Lodi and Unioncamere Lombardia in Italy, with the coordination of the Polytechnic University of Milan. The competition is held in collaboration with the General Commissioner’s Office for Italy at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Fondazione La Triennale di Milano foundation, ADI (Industrial Design Association), Fiera Milano S.p.A., as well as American University of Sharjah and Expo 2020 Dubai–Construction Department.

For more information about the College of Architecture, Art and Design at American University of Sharjah, visit


For more information, please contact:
Farid Alvie, Content Manager,
Strategic Communications and Marketing,
American University of Sharjah,        
+971 6 515 2210, 

About AUS
American University of Sharjah (AUS) was founded in 1997 by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Sharjah. Sheikh Sultan articulated his vision of a distinctive institution against the backdrop of Islamic history and in the context of the aspirations and needs of contemporary society in the UAE and the Gulf region.

Firmly grounded in principles of meritocracy and with a strong reputation for academic excellence, AUS has come to represent the very best in teaching and research, accredited internationally and recognized by employers the world over for creating graduates equipped with the knowledge, skills and drive to lead in the 21st century.

AUS values learners not driven only by academic success, but by those that embrace our dynamic campus life and embody our ideals of openness, tolerance and respect. This combination of academic excellence and community spirit ensures AUS is filled with world-class faculty and students, poised to become the innovators, thinkers, contributors and leaders of tomorrow.

© Press Release 2019

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