World Expo

Building the first digital version of the world’s largest expo

Just like many live events that were affected when the world shutdown in 2020, the World Expo was no exception. DOGSTUDIO/DEPT® partnered with the World Expo to celebrate its 35th year by building the first ever digital version of the world’s largest expo hosted in Dubai. 

A real life digital experience

World Expo 2020 had to continue a long standing tradition of showcasing the latest technologies and innovations from around the globe. DOGSTUDIO/DEPT® had to maintain this history while creating an immersive, virtual desert that would host the 35th edition. 

With expo visitors being used to exploring the venue’s vast spaces, the team was faced with the challenge of creating an experience that was modular, yet still enabled all 192 participating countries, pavilions, and art installations to shine in their own unique way. With Dubai being the host city, the team created a digital experience that embodied the liveliness of this location, while being close to physical reality.

Building the 3D environment

As with any expo, visitors are used to attending at different times of the day and joining different events. To recreate this experience in the virtual expo, the team created a daytime and nighttime mode, and had scenery and UI illuminating in the virtual desert from 18:00hrs onwards in Dubai local time. 

To create the digital replica of the Expo, the landscape, thematic pavilions, roads, flags, stations, hotels, and venue surroundings were carefully modelled from images and sources including existing unoptimised 3D models. Within 9 months, the team of designers built an interactive content platform integrated into a Webgl-based universe, offering 6 months worth of content that adapted across desktop and mobile, some of which were uniquely and exclusively designed for the digital version of the expo to further enhance the visitors’ experience.

Attendees were able to visit individual pages for all participating countries with their custom designed pavilions, with the team including relevant recommendations to maximise user engagement.

Reimagining the Middle Eastern experience 

For the first time in the history of the World Expo, a global community was given access to more than 200 custom-made 3D pavilions and two parks all housed in one exhibition centre. Our team of designers included traditional, Arabic architecture and patterns serving both as a muse and an ode to the rich heritage of the emirates for even the simplest of elements such as a divider or bullet point. 

Animations, custom notifications, recommendations, engaging elements and more than 30,000 events ensured that visitors had a different experience every time they entered the virtual expo during the 6 month event.


online visitors


viewers during the inauguration event


visitors for the most watched event


events during the 6 month expo


custom-made 3D pavilions


UX/UI views of the entire project


CEO / CCO at Dogstudio

Henry Daubrez

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