Standing on Expo Boulevard overlooking the magnificent display of international architecture in the Expo Garden, Feng Qi could not believe the marvelous pavilions will soon be razed to the ground.
Clockwise from top: Visitors enjoy a night at the Shanghai Expo. A long queue circles the Sweden Pavilion, which is a common scene at the Expo since its opening in May. Wu Huang / for China Daily The Spain Pavilion attracts visitors with its creative architecture. Jing Wei / for China Daily
"The architecture is so amazing; it's a pity that they are going to be pulled down," Feng said.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors like Feng who are curious to see the technology and culture show at the Shanghai Expo, flock to the event every day with unabated enthusiasm despite the heat and crowds. It's hard for many to believe that the 184-day carnival is going to last for only three more months.
But according to the rules of the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), the governing body of the World Expos, almost all the pavilions are slated for demolition after the event to make way for the redevelopment of the Expo site. Only a few structures will remain, including the China Pavilion, the Theme Pavilion, the Cultural Center, Expo Center and Expo Boulevard, which will become permanent landmarks on the site after the event ends at the end of October.
The redevelopment plans for the Expo site were finalized long ago, according to Wu Zhiqiang, chief planner of the Expo Garden. With the ending of the fair and the demolition of the enclosure fences and the temporary structures within, a new city center will arise from the 5.28-square-kilometer Expo site. A 0.2-square-kilometer plot between the Theme Pavilion and the Cultural Center, for instance, will be rebuilt into an international convention center, along with all the underground utilities put in place during the construction of the Expo.
The China Pavilion will become a Chinese history museum. A great part of the green land near the Huangpu River will also be preserved.
Government officials, however, have so far remained tight-lipped on the issues of the redevelopment of the rest of the Expo land. Huang Jianzhi, deputy director of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, said the redevelopment plan is still under deliberation and that authorities want, first and foremost, to make sure the Expo operation is a great success, before getting down to the details of redevelopment.
The only official statement from the local government so far has been from Mayor Han Zheng, who said earlier that once the plan is finalized, it will be made public to solicit opinions. Han also said a great part of the land would be developed for "public interests."
But rumors that part of the Expo site is slated to be put up for auction for commercial development projects to help the government win profits are spreading like wildfire online. Many believe authorities need to recover the government's huge investment in the Expo, estimated at several hundred billion yuan, including citywide infrastructure spending.
The issue has turned out to be a conundrum, which, despite local authorities' efforts to try to cool negative publicity, has sparked speculations and debate among the public.
Located in the city center striding the Huangpu River, the Expo site is now regarded as the most precious land resource in Shanghai. Meanwhile, the scrimmage for land near the Expo Garden by major developers started long before the event kicked off, which has also driven up expectations for land prices in the area.