Lessons to be learned

By Guillermo Garcia (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-09-10 07:48
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 Lessons to be learned

Guillermo Garcia at the Expo 2010 Shanghai. Provided to China Daily

The two main scopes of an Expo are entertainment and education. A successful Expo has to be amusing while at the same time it should be illustrative and offer enriching content to visitors.

In the case of Expo 2010 Shanghai, there are several examples that fulfill both scopes. First and foremost is the Urban Best Practices Area (UBPA), then there are pavilions like South Korea, Japan, Denmark and Germany. Even the public spaces like Houtan Park fulfill the criteria. They all stand for the environmentally friendly side of the Expo while, at the same time, provide amusing experiences.

The UBPA gathers more than 60 cities from five continents that come to present what they have done to make cities greener and more enjoyable. Madrid stands out among the self-built pavilions for introducing its local programs and achievements. Hamburg, Shanghai, Vancouver and London are also noteworthy.

In the same way, the joint pavilions have cases not to be missed - like Montreal, which has an innovative moving screen for a movie about a landfill. Liverpool's city branding is certainly effective while sustainability is not ignored.

On the Pudong side of the Huangpu River, South Korea offers a good balance between education and entertainment. Its exhibits range from presenting urban regeneration projects in Seoul to the fantastic presentation, Chorus City, a movie that mixes the virtual with the real and features the participation of Korean celebrities. The pavilion finishes with a promotion area for the 2012 Yeosu International Exhibition.

In the same zone, the Japan Pavilion's emphasis on sustainable development is expressed throughout the pavilion, starting with its main structure, aimed to resemble a breathing organism. Inside, displays are about water purification, clean electricity generation and a movie of the joint work of China and Japan to save the crested Ibis in the wild. The pavilion is also about entertainment, with performances that include children, robots and elements of Noh drama and Kunqu opera.

The Denmark Pavilion exalts the bicycle as the best means of transport for cities and it has a cycle track spiraling up to its roof - a display that is simultaneously entertaining and educational. In China these days, bicycles tend to have negative connotations, but the Denmark Pavilion shows locals that in other places, bicycles are considered trendy and highly efficient.

In the same way, Germany has a well-structured journey that explores each part of the city and looks for finding the balance between them, giving rise to its theme "Balancity". Each section of the pavilion has several displays and provides hints on how to make a city more sustainable.

Then, same as Japan and South Korea, the grand finale is more focused on entertainment. In this case, with Source of Energy, a show with a moving spherical screen, is certainly one of the must-sees at the Expo.

Houtan Park is one of the hidden treasures of the Expo. This wonderful green space represents a good materialization of the "Better City, Better Life" ideal. The 14-hectare park used to be a derelict factory, but was converted into a park for the Expo. It features functions like flood control, natural water treatment, food production and environmental regeneration.

This Expo is an excellent opportunity to appreciate the latest technological and scientific advances of our rapidly urbanizing world.

Expo 2010 Shanghai, like previous Expos, has made a good effort in providing an entertaining experience that also spreads information of a more sustainable lifestyle. If Shanghai is where the new trends in China will be generated, then this Expo is certainly making history.

The author is a Mexican writer and expert on World Expos. The Expo 2010 Shanghai is the sixth he has visited. He has just published Destination: Expo, a book that introduces Expos to Chinese readers.

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