Tag Archives: World Expo 2010

More thoughts on Expo 2010

One of the interesting juxtapositions around Expo 2010 is its theme of sustainability contrasted to a massive temporary exhibition focused on an intensive 6 months with much of the site to be demolished in October.

The Expo is certainly a success with a projected attendance of 75million visitors. From the sustainability perspective there have been many innovations and initiatives.

Much of the heating and cooling uses heat pumps powered by solar (PVC) cells. Movement across the site has been optimised in three planes, above on, and below ground encouraging walking and most of the transportation is electric powered. Several of the larger buildings are designed for re-use and one incorporates the world’s largest green wall. Another innovation has been refurbishing many of the pre-existing industrial buildings on-site to preserve Shanghai’s heritage.

The Expo is also hosting a string of conference events focusing world experts on its theme of ‘better city, better life’ and sustainability. This was also a key focus of the CIOB events we attended.

The World's Largest 'Greenwall' diring construction. Now it's a mass of green.

Part way through, it’s hard to assess if the Expo will contribute a net benefit to sustainability and ‘better city’ development but from what we saw, it is looking positive.

Before moving onto other topics though, there were many pavilions that really caught our attention. The Chinese and UK pavilions have already been mentioned. The Australian pavilion is a standout design looking like cross between Ayres Rock and a tin shed. The design is very distinctive and ‘Australian’.

The Australian Pavilion

Many of the countries used interesting cladding to focus on sustainability and insulation. The Canadian pavilion was covered in lumber, the Portuguese in cork. The ‘paper cut’ effect of the Polish pavilion combined a classic Chinese art from with shading and ventilation.

The Polish Pavilion's 'Paper Cut'

Overall the experience was fantastic, as long as you don’t mind the crowds, and will be long remembered. Thoughts on sustainability and ‘Zero Carbon’ will follow in later posts.

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.