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Master plan for the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Exposition.
"Maybe you are not familiar with the city of Qingdao, but you must know its Tsingtao beer. Maybe you missed the 2008 Olympic Regatta in Qingdao, but here is a chance for you to recognize the city for the 2014 Qingdao International Horticultural Expo," said Li Fengli, secretary-general of the QIHE executive committee.
The event is scheduled for April 25 to Oct 25 in Qingdao, a dynamic harbor city facing South Korea directly across the Yellow Sea. It is an economic hub of Shandong province where China's greatest philosopher Confucius was born.
The horticultural expo will be held on Baiguoshan Hill at the west end of Laoshan Mountain, one of Taoism's most sacred mountains, second only to Wudan or Wu-tang.
Qingdao was awarded the expo in 2009 by the International Association of Horticultural Producers.
It will spread across 241 hectares including 164 hectares of theme areas, 15.6 hectares of water, a 77-hectare experience area for visitors and a 55-hectare Expo Village to provide logistical support.
It will have seven parks with themes - Chinese, Floriculture, Herbs, Dreamkids, Science, Green and International - and five experience parks including tea-scent, agriculture, floristry, a floral world and mountain parks.
The theme for the expo is "from the earth for the earth".
"The Chinese interpretation of the expo theme is encouraging people go back to nature," said Li. "We upheld a major principle throughout the planning and design process and that is being ecological-oriented through innovation."
The event's mascot is a sea fairy named Qingqing. Qing in Chinese is a color brighter than blue.
"The mascot is light blue, which is also the color of the sea, as Qingdao is a seaside city - even Mount Lao is right above the sea," the executive committee member said. "But more profoundly, there is a Chinese saying - green out of blue, which literally means from good to better, or even from good to great."
The committee is determined to present a great spectacle for visitors from all over the world, so they have also set the highest standards for themselves.
"We want to impress world-class gardening specialists - stunning them with sophistication and proficiency - while at the same time making it an attractive event for ordinary people, which of course will be the majority of expo visitors," Li said. "I hope they enjoy an unforgettable and remarkable trip with comfort."
To meet such high expectations, the committee has teamed up some of the world's best gardening and exhibition designers, including the masterminds behind the 2010 Shanghai Expo Wu Zhiqiang.
"Many prominent international teams also played key roles in the architecture design. The Dutch architect Ben van Berkel and his UN Studio, which built the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany, led the design of our theme pavilion," Li said.
With the expo designed to be environmentally conscious and innovative, authorities have placed particular emphasis on new technology to protect nature while conserving water, energy and other resources.
The theme pavilion has a combined heat and power system that generates power from burning natural gas while providing heat in winter and cooling in summer. As well as solar energy, heat pumps, water recycling and evaporative cooling systems can be found everywhere at the expo.
"Since the venue is chosen on a hill with complicated terrain and natural water systems, we also set our minds to largely preserve them in their original forms both in the planning and construction periods," Li said. "Even when paving the road, we used a warm mixed asphalt technology to minimize damage caused to the trees and grass along the side."
As the first horticulture expo to be held in a coastal city of China, QIHE will differ from previous events by displaying marine flora and a maritime culture at an ocean botanical pavilion.
"We will also showcase the heritage of China's ancient horticulture and try to raise awareness about conservation of the precious legacy left by our ancestors," said Li. "And I really hope people will pay attention to the expo from this perspective."
Efforts by Li and his team resulted in a high level of participation in the QIHE, with 85 organizations from 28 countries on five continents already signed on to attend. Some 113 booths have been booked.
"Our executive team is passionate, with an open mind. Qingdao is an open city with high popularity, so we expect that both exhibitors and visitors will get great gratification in 2014," Li said.
(China Daily 11/08/2012 page18)