INNOVATION: Two pavilions renovated from old factories are cleverly linked together at the Shanghai Expo's Urban Best Practices Area (GUO DAYUE)
The 2010 World Expo opened in Shanghai on May 1. While serving as a platform to display the latest global scientific achievements and economic growth, it offers a wonderful opportunity for Chinese culture to be shared with the rest of the world as well. On this occasion, participants from 246 nations and international organizations gathered in Shanghai to create an Expo stage that goes beyond national, ethnic and religious boundaries, and to convey the Expo ideas of "understanding, communication, togetherness and cooperation" to the world. Currently, four highlights of the Expo are available to visitors.
Urban Best Practices Area
As a highlight of the Shanghai Expo, the Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA) was established for cities of the participating countries to provide exhibitions independently. This is an unprecedented innovation in the history of the World Expo, as previously only nations or international organizations were entitled to participate. It aims to embody the Shanghai Expo's theme of "Better City, Better Life," introduce various ongoing practices designed to improve the quality of urban life in the tide of global urbanization, and provide a platform for all the cities in the world to share and exchange experiences in urban construction, management and development. After a year of global solicitation and selection, some 50 cities were finally chosen to serve as case studies.
The UBPA, comprising 34 pavilions and subsidiary buildings that were either newly constructed or reconstructed, is located in Zone E of the Puxi site, occupying a floor space of 15 hectares. According to Ding Hao, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, the 50 cases that were chosen have been put on display either in the form of material objects or in the form of an entire pavilion, and the subjects include livable cities, sustainable urbanization, protection and utilization of historical heritage, and technological innovation in built-up environments.
"The predecessor of the UBPA was a thermal power station with a history of 110 years," said Ding. "Turning a polluting power plant in the downtown area into an international zone where numerous environmental protection pioneers gather together—this itself was a big challenge."
The finishing ceremony for the UBPA construction was held on February 10. Sun Liansheng, Director of the UBPA Department of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, attributed the completion of the building work on schedule to collaborative efforts by all the participating cities and the organizers. To show the model of urban life in the future, a total of 10 environmental protection technologies have been applied in the UBPA. Additionally, to reduce costs, approximately two thirds of the buildings were reconstructed, and many original workshops were transformed into "green" buildings.
A range of ceremonies, cultural shows and recreational activities will turn the 184-day-long Expo into a gala event. More than 160 nations and international organizations have submitted applications for Pavilion Day activities and some 1,100 proposals for performances. Meanwhile, all domestic provinces, autonomous regions and cities have put forward plans for their Thematic Week activities.
According to Hu Jinjun, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, there will be more than 20,000 cultural and artistic performances, or roughly 100 each day. Half of these are by participating Chinese provinces, and half by troupes from other countries, to be staged in public venues at the Expo site. Admissions to the performances are expected to be over 200,000 daily.
On the list of performers, people can find "cultural ambassadors" such as dancers from Lebanon's Caracalla Dance Theater performing the Arabian masterpiece of the Thousand and One Nights, Japanese dancers in traditional national costumes, dancers of the London-based Royal Ballet, renowned tenors Plácido Domingo and Andrea Bocelli, actors from the well-known Canadian Cirque du Soleil (Circus of the Sun), Brazilian Samba dancers, members of the Royal Drummers of Burundi, the Narasirato pan-pipers from the Solomon Islands, and singers and dancers from Samoa and Fiji. "The Shanghai Expo will become a showcase for the charm of different cultures," Hu said.
In addition to this, the activities sponsored by a number of international organizations, such as the UN Creative Night and the Red Cross Soirée, will add to the festive nature of the occasion.
With "Better City, Better Life" as its main theme, the Shanghai Expo also has five sub-themes, namely, the blending of diverse cultures in the city, economic prosperity in the city, innovation of science and technology in the city, remodeling of communities in the city, and rural-urban interaction. A summit forum, six theme forums, and a series of public forums will be held during the Expo period from May 1 to October 31. A Shanghai Declaration—a key document of the Expo based on all the participants' common understanding of the issues of global urban development, and hopefully a milestone in the history of World Expo—will be announced at the summit forum.
REVELLERS: South African Soweto Gospel Choir performs at the Shanghai Expo's African Square on May 3 (REN YONG)
As the climax of the Expo forums, the summit forum will be jointly hosted by the Shanghai World Expo Organizing Committee, the UN and other international organizations. Attendees include heads of state or government, leaders of international organizations, mayors of major cities in the world, international celebrities, and leading figures from academic, business, art and cultural circles. The summit forum will explore models of urban development in the future, and seek a harmonious relationship between livable cities, globalization and macroscopic, sustainable development.
Various Expo forums will give attendees a chance to freely discuss a wide range of topics under the theme of "Better City, Better Life." From these forums we can both find the spiritual heritage of previous world expositions and look to the future of this grand assembly that promotes social, cultural, economic and scientific exchanges and cooperation between different countries.
Some 70 million people from around the world are expected to visit the Shanghai Expo. However, there is still another way to experience it. Innovating the traditional way of presenting a world exposition, Expo Shanghai Online—an integral part of the Shanghai Expo—creates an Internet platform with the supporting functions of promoting, introducing, displaying and educating, to satisfy the different needs and personal interest of online visitors.
The organizers have signed agreements with all the participating nations and international organizations to create 3-dimensional images of all the pavilions in the Web-access version. Any netizen who enters the website of www.expo.cn will feel as though he or she is personally on the scene, obtaining a detailed and thorough picture of the Expo.
"We are eagerly anticipating a successful, marvelous and memorable world exposition," said Zhu Yonglei, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination. "Expo Shanghai Online makes it possible for people not present to experience this exceptionally grand occasion with a simple mouse click, whilst those who have visited the physical Expo site can find a lot of different fun stuff here."
Expo Shanghai Online provides an opportunity for all participants to create their own virtual pavilions on the Web, which are identical to the physical ones in every respect—from exterior appearance, interior design, overall arrangement, to objects on display. Meanwhile, by using Internet information technologies the participants are able to make a more attractive and diversified presentation of their materials.
An online pavilion whose operation is under management of the organizers enables visitors to have an all-around and intensive understanding of its layout, exhibitions and displays through multi-media channels. In addition, interaction will become much easier as visitors can manually control (rotate, magnify, or reduce) the virtual objects with the aid of specific software packages developed either by the participants themselves or by the organizers.
Obviously, Expo Shanghai Online will give the Shanghai Expo a much longer life than that of any previous world exposition. After the conclusion of the Shanghai Expo, its online version will remain open, and will continue to exist in a different form in the future.