Sabeel Water Fountain - Expo 2020

Water Fountain for Dubai Expo

Water is a vital element of nature. A replenishing life source, the need for water equally binds all living forms, cultures, ages, and localities. As Dubai’s Expo 2020 plans to attract millions of global visitors, the task of providing fresh drinkable water becomes a crucial part of planning the World’s Fair.

‘Sabeel’ water fountains have always been an integral part of the urban fabric of cities in the region. They provide refuge from the heat and means of giving back to the community. In addition, public water fountains are an example of hospitality that the United Arab Emirates is famous for.

With this in mind, we designed a water fountain for Expo 2020 that represents those aspirations and ideals. We believe that the water fountain of the future has to work with the challenges of a harsh arid environment to its advantage, to evolve on the ingenuity of the past with the innovation of the present for the longevity towards a sustainable future.

Our proposal for Expo 2020 Water Fountain combines the advances of new technology with the inclusivity and hospitality of the United Arab Emirates.

Learning From Nature

Dubai’s Jebel Ali site of Expo 2020 is challenged by hot and humid weather. In addition, the desert climate on the site provides challenges for the design of the Sabeel 2020 water fountain. Our proposal for Sabeel 2020 takes a ‘Biomimetic’ approach to observing living forms of the desert, learning from how these organisms cope with the harsh environment to use the challenges of the weather to their advantage.

The Namibian Desert beetle, for example, condenses humidity from the air on the cool surface of its back, channels that water, and uses it to nourish itself. Similar to the desert beetle, our proposal for Sabeel 2020 uses a technology called ‘Atmospheric Water Generation.'

The mechanism developed by GENAQ harvests drinkable water from humid air. The Aloe Vera Cactus evolved into a spiraling geometry called the ‘Phyllotaxis,’ which allows for the shielding of the plant from exposure to harsh sunlight, therefore protecting its water content from depletion through evaporation.

We used these geometric principles to design our fountain:12-brushed Aluminum sinks spiral around a central stainless steel structure and foldout to provide sinks for water channeling. Once opened, water flows out of the 3D printed sprout faucets made from polymers of recycled water bottles.

Making Water From Thin Air

We designed a water fountain that harvests precipitation from humid air and provides clean fresh water. The process is sustainable and efficiently transforms a tremendous environmental challenge into a valuable resource.

The water fountain we designed is self-sufficient and looks at examples from nature for its self-sufficiency. Water from the condensing system supplements the filtered water chilled from DEWA pipes, reducing the amount of water drawn from the Dubai Water and Electrical Authority pipes.

Water for Everyone

The design of the Sabeel 2020 provides a swivel mechanism that rotates the fountain’s sinks, making them accessible at different heights. The design allows for the inclusivity of people of all ages, heights, and physical abilities to access clean water. In addition, the sinks are equipped with facets that draw water from the storage containers to provide chilled, fresh water at all times.

Alternatively, the fountain mechanism allows multiple sinks to open simultaneously in a dramatic blooming sequence, resembling a natural, iconic form. In its closed state, the fountain is sculptural and reflects the environment around it on its metallic surface.

A Self-Cleaning System

The sink mechanism allows the fountain to remain clean from dust and other pollutants. Given the harsh nature of the arid site and the frequent sandstorms in the UAE, the retractable sink system protects the fountain from damage, extending the life of the fountain and the longevity of its elements. In addition, excess water cleans the sinks from any pollutants.

Sabeel 2020 water fountain uses cutting-edge, innovative technologies to envisage a new prototype of water fountains that speak to the cultural and ecological identity of the UAE, bringing people together to the aspirations of Dubai Expo 2020 of connecting minds, creating the future.

  1. Type
    Urban Furniture
  2. Client
    Expo 2020
  3. Size
    2.5 sqm
  4. Location
    Dubai, UAE
  5. Status
    Competition Entry
  6. Lead Architect
    Riyad Joucka
  7. Team
    Wael Nasrallah, Amro Mansy, Sara Shalaby
  8. Date


Conceptual Drawings showing 'Sabeel Water Fountain' in Plan and Elevation.

Diagram showing 'Sabeel Water Fountain' Petals can Bloom Together.

Diagram showing 'Sabeel Water Fountain' Petals can Open Individually.

Colorway Diagram showing 'Sabeel Water Fountain' in varies Materials

Diagram showing 'Sabeel Water Fountain' Parts and Process of Work.