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Australia Pavilion Design Challenge, ’NeOasis,’ Looks To Combat Desertification


The winner will be announced on 19 December at the Australia Pavilion










An international design competition for young people, hosted by the Australia Pavilion, has looked at how self-sufficient oases settlements in the desert, a so-called ‘NeOasis,’ could look, feel and work.

The challenge was directed at combatting the desertification of large regions of the planet, through sustainable urban and architectural development, aligning with the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The top ten finalists were announced on Sunday (31 October) at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Young architects and planners were asked to contribute urban, architectural and landscape solutions for the self-resilience of climatically-challenged regions in deserts and drylands. Entrants, working in diverse, gender-inclusive teams, were asked to build on traditional desert oasis knowledge to generate design ideas for one of four desert sites in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Australia, which share similar bio-climatic conditions.  

The finalists are:

  • Office of Aesthetic Exuberance
  • KMA-DG
  • INCO(g)NTXT
  • Rézilienz
  • Vision Lab
  • Phoenix
  • UrbanWeavers
  • RMR
  • The Wadi Lab
  • Panacea

The announcement was made by Dr Erfan Ali, Head of UN-Habitat’s Arab States Office. Dr Ali said: “We are very pleased with the interest and support the NeOasis design challenge has received and are hopeful that such programmes continue to advance inclusive sustainable development and approaches to urban resilience.”

The judging panel included Queensland Government Architect, Leah Lang; Dr Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat; Professor Asmaa Ibrahim, Effat University (KSA); Professors Adina Hempel and Mehdi Sabet from Zayed University (UAE); Ahmed Bukhash, DUBAI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (UAE); and Dr Paola Leardini, the University of Queensland.

The challenge is not over yet, though – in Phase Two, the finalists will be mentored by international expert practitioners from 8 November to refine their designs, which will be submitted by 5 December. The winner will be announced on 19 December at the Australia Pavilion.

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