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Scents and Sensibility
Beijing horticultural expo enters its final stage of preparation
By Li Qing  ·  2019-03-29  ·   Source: NO. 14 APRIL 4, 2019

The International Pavilion, one of the main pavilions at the International Horticultural Expo 2019, in Yanqing District of Beijing on March 22 (VCG)
Jia Wenzhen, a sophomore at Beijing Forestry University (BFU), is one of the selected volunteers for the International Horticultural Exposition 2019, which will kick off in Beijing on April 29.

"It is a great honor for me to take part in such a high-level exposition," she told Beijing Review.

As a student learning landscape architecture, Jia regards the expo as an opportunity to review the knowledge acquired in class, and at the same time, draw inspiration from the innovative botanical exhibition which is combined with cultural elements.

Along with another 309 volunteers from BFU, she will spend two weeks providing services for visitors at the expo, where more than 110 countries and international organizations, as well as over 120 non-official exhibitors, have confirmed participation.

Various rare plants at the Plant Pavilion at the International Horticultural Expo 2019 in Yanqing on January 11 (XINHUA)

Preparation work

The horticultural expo is an A1-category exhibition for trade promotion and cooperation in horticulture among countries and organizations approved by the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH).

It is the second time China will hold the event, following the 1999 World Horticultural Exposition in Kunming, Yunnan Province in the southwest. This time, the venue is in Yanqing, a district in north Beijing, at the foot of the Great Wall. The Beijing expo is expected to welcome more than 16 million visitors before it closes on October 7.

The AIPH approved Beijing as the host of the 2019 expo on September 29, 2012. With the recognition from the Bureau International des Expositions on June 11, 2014, construction of the expo gardens and infrastructure started on September 29, 2016.

According to the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition Coordination Bureau (BIHECB), the institution in charge of the preparation work of the expo, the building of main roads and pavilions has been completed, including garden facilities, gallery frames and sculptures, and water, gas, heat and telecommunications projects. Tree planting is basically complete, while shrubs, ground cover flowers and lawns, affected by the climate, will be completed by April 10, as planned.

At the Beijing expo, tourists can "visit the garden of gardens, enjoy a feast of cultures, read a botanical encyclopedia, take an ecological class and share smart experiences," said Zhou Jianping, BIHECB Executive Director General, in March.

Cultural feast

The expo site has more than 100 distinctive horticultural gardens along with four main pavilions and a performance center.

Each outdoor garden covers an area of 1,000-3,000 square meters, with the classic design and unique horticultural style of the participating country, while indoor gardens display the latest developments and achievements in horticulture, including typical and selected varieties of plants, gardening techniques, facilities and equipment in an area of 50-300 square meters.

The participants will also present large-scale flower landscapes and life gardening, including fruits and vegetables, flowers, tea and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). International horticulture competitions will also take place during the exhibition.

As the centerpiece of the expo, the Performance Center, the China Pavilion, the International Pavilion, the Horticultural Experience Pavilion and the Plant Pavilion are a fusion of culture and hi-tech.

The Plant Pavilion features plant roots. The designer of the International Pavilion strove to achieve harmony with nature, with the end result being a flower ocean surrounded by 94 flowery umbrellas. The entire pavilion uses sustainable technologies such as solar power generation and rainwater recycling to decrease energy consumption.

Gardens built by foreign countries and international organizations will showcase floral beauty from around the world, while exhibition areas for Chinese participants will highlight the beauty of Chinese horticulture.

Inspired by Chinese water and ink paintings, Danish designer Stig Anderson and his team designed a garden by using elements like wind, stone and water. As a garden for creative exhibition, it will present aesthetics formed by nature and people in harmony.

Charming landscapes and plants will also be presented to the public in the gardens built by local participants in China. The garden of east China's Zhejiang Province, for example, emphasizes architecture, the landscape of gardens in the region south of the Yangtze River, and crafts with southern characteristics, integrating both modern and simple elements.

The herb garden, known as Baicao Garden, is related to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is expected to be a popular destination, where visitors will have a chance to learn about the origin, production, development and internationalization of TCM.

The horticultural expo serves as an international platform to convey everyone's yearning for a beautiful ecological environment, said Ye Dahua, Deputy Director of BIHECB.

Over 2,500 events will take place during the more than five months of the expo.

"It is a horticultural feast where different civilizations show the gardening beauty of their own cultures," Jia said. "People can learn more about the variety of horticulture in the world within a limited space."

Yongning Pavilion, a landmark structure at the International Horticultural Expo 2019 in Yanqing on March 22 (VCG)

Green ideas

The theme of the expo, Live Green, Live Better, reflects the goal of the exhibition: a new horizon for world horticulture and a new model of ecological conservation.

"Plants bridge man and nature," Zhou said. Through floricultural displays, the expo is hoped to help people strengthen their awareness of respecting nature and establish a low-carbon and environmentally friendly lifestyle.

The principle of prioritizing ecological conservation has been followed during the design and preparation of the expo. For instance, nearly 50,000 original trees and plants and another 50,000 trees and 120,000 shrubs will be preserved after the expo ends.

Before planning the natural ecological display area, one of the major exhibition areas of the expo, the design team conducted a field survey and found that there were more than 100 types of plants, birds and insects living in the wetlands there, which are also a migratory route for birds. In order not to disturb their original habitat, the wetlands are protected with water quality management.

Smart and human

The expo will also serve as a stage to display cutting-edge technologies that will change daily life and the ecology.

The application of 5G will bring a smart experience to visitors in areas like self-driving, automated logistics and drones. Telemedicine first aid will be available for emergencies and monitoring and assessment, which is the first attempt at utilizing 5G in this field. When patients need to be transferred to a hospital, medical staff can send relevant information and data with the ambulance.

In addition, services will be provided by robotic tour guides, baristas and cleaners.

In order to ensure a comfortable experience for tourists, many supporting measures have been taken. Six entrances have been designed to avoid overcrowding, combined with an online ticket sales platform. People can also purchase night tickets to see the light display, beat the daytime crowds and stay in Yanqing overnight.

Wi-Fi is available in the recreational area, where some 15,000 people can be seated.

Jia will be joined by some 24,000 volunteers from colleges, enterprises and other social quarters whose responsibilities include public order, maintenance, consultation, reception, activity organization and care for people with disabilities.

In addition, 17 catering enterprises will set up shop to provide convenient and safe food. But if that isn't enough, within 5 km from the site, visitors have their choice of 301 restaurants. "Training programs were carried out to enhance the quality of service," Ye said.

To provide convenient transportation to visitors, relevant government departments of Beijing have formed a team to guarantee transport service. Since the site is 74 km from the city center, various measures will be taken to shuttle visitors from the downtown to the expo site. In addition, the number of trains along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, which passes by Yanqing, has been increased to 16 pairs every day. At the end of 2018, the Beijing-Chongli Expressway, which also passes by Yanqing, opened to traffic, providing another convenient choice for travelers shuttling between downtown Beijing and the expo.

"The expo is expected to stimulate local industrial growth and economic and social development through the upgrade of local infrastructure," Zhou said. After the expo, the site will be used as a recreational destination, meeting people's desire for a beautiful living environment, with horticulture and tourism as the pillars in subsequent utilization.

Copyedited by Rebeca Toledo

Comments to liqing@bjreview.com

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