Tag Archives: CIOB Shanghai

CIOB Shanghai Meetings

The Chartered Institute of Building for the first time in its 187 year history held its AGM, Board of Trustees and Members Forum meetings outside of the UK. In addition to the working meetings, the two highlights of a busy week were the International Construction Conference focused on sustainability and ‘zero carbon’ construction and a visit to World Expo 2010.

Shanghai Hotel (background) and Conference Venue

The business part of the week was centred in the impressive J.W. Marriott hotel and the adjacent Grand State Theatre. Given some time to reflect on these experiences, I intend writing a couple of posts focusing on some of the ideas and observations from the meetings and conference.

I want to focus this post on an incredible experience from World Expo. Lynda has described the size and intensity of the Expo in her post World Expo Shanghai 2010. And whilst the China Pavilion undoubtedly had the longest queues, another ‘long queue’ pavilion is the remarkable British ‘dandelion’. The design concept is that of a ‘gift’ to the Chinese people surrounded by its wrapping paper.

UK Pavilion

The wonderful fuzzy effect on the outside is created by 60,686 hand crafted acrylic rods, each 7 meters long which allow light into the inside of a 20 meter plywood cube.

Some of the 60,000 rods

Remarkably each rod has between 1 and 10 seeds embedded in the end representing Chinese plant species that are growing in the UK.

Some of the seeds embedded in the rods

The effect outside is fascinating, inside it is simply mind blowing. I have never experienced anything quite like this.

The effect inside

At one level the display is totally useless, at another the juxtaposition of 60,686 individually hand crafted rods focusing on plant seeds to the overall scale of the Expo simply has to be experienced. Judging from the fact over 1 million people a month are queuing for hours for the experience, I feel the UK designers have achieved their objective of raising the UK’s profile at all levels of Chinese society.

At the moment, plans are to demolish the pavilion in October and to distribute the section of each rod holding the seeds to schools and other institutions. I hope this changes and the ‘cube’ can be found a home intact somewhere in the city for future generations to experience.

World Expo Shanghai 2010

I have just finished a week in Shanghai; the main purpose of my trip was to participate in a panel session at the CIOB International Construction Conference. For more on this see Patrick’s post CIOB Shanghai Meetings. However, the highlight of the trip was a day spent at World Expo.

The Expo is simply enormous. The site covers a total area of 5.28 square kilometres spread along both sides of the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai; it includes gardens, wet lands, paved walkways and 100s of new and renovated buildings.

In the two months since opening the Expo has hosted over 20 million visitors and expects over 75 million before closing in October. On busy days over half a million visitors are on the site. Everywhere you look on the site there are queues but the organisers keep things moving, the officials are polite and helpful and the crowd rubs along without friction, maybe even enjoying the experience. From a stakeholder management perspective, expectations are managed and information is readily available, particularly if you speak Mandarin – international visitors are not likely to exceed 5 million.

The China Pavilion dominates the site and is a wonderful experience. For locals to visit the pavilion, someone has to join the queue outside the gates at 6:00am to so when the gates open at 9:00am they can be near enough to the front of the next queue at the China Pavilion to receive some of the 50,000 tickets issued daily to allow them join another queue for 2 to 3 hours to get inside to see and experience the exhibits.

I was more fortunate, the hosts of the CIOB conference were able to arrange VIP access but I can understand why the Chinese pavilion is worth the wait. Its exhibits really are wonderful. There are over 200 countries and international organisations represented, ranging from Tuvalu to the USA; the World bank to the International Council of Museums, as well as numerous major corporations and most Chinese provinces. Almost every pavilion had its queue! In a long day I only managed to see a small section of the total experience but could start to appreciate the overarching purpose of this great festival.

My visit to the Expo was a once in a lifetime experience. If you can’t make the trip personally, you can be a virtual tourist on line at http://en.expo.cn/. Either way World Expo 2010 is well worth the visit.