Here we have been embroiled in a General Election – the outcome of which remains uncertain – in Greece the population is finding the penalty for the past 10 years of national profligacy unpalatable. Following the attack 2 years ago on the worlds financial institutions today we find the European currency under similar pressure. The Gulf of Mexico is inundated by an oil spill which has oil price speculators and lawyers rubbing their hands and environmentalists wringing theirs. That Icelandic volcano renews its efforts to isolate us from the rest of the world – which come to think of it may not be a bad thing! All this activity seems to have hidden news from China where, amongst other disturbing news, they are organising yet another world event. Sadly I missed the firework display !
Because it is cold and wet outside the castle I will bore you with the history of the first and current World Expositions.
Crystal Palace – main entrance 1851
The first World Expo,then known as the Great Exhibition, was held in London’s Crystal Palace in 1851. This majestic metal-and-glass edifice,designed by Joseph Paxton,was not only home to the extravaganza display of products from all over the world, but was also the iconic symbol of the world fair, being considered one of the most beautiful structures in the world until November 1936 when a fire destroyed it “In a few hours we saw the end of the Crystal Palace. Yet it will live on in the memories not only of Englishmen, but the whole world”.
You must realise I have an ‘interest’ in statistics, some would say an appetite for useless information, but here for your delectation: The 1851 Great Exhibition factfile.
"Foreign participants: from 25 countries and 15 British colonies. Visitors: 6,039,205. Entrance fees: variable, between 5 pence to £1. Exhibit Prizes: 5,130 awards in three categories. Awards of the first category go mainly to Britain 46% and France 33% ! The total cost was £913,000 [ £81.4 M and the Profit was £150,000 [ £13.5 M].( based on price retail index 1851 – 2008)
Queen Victoria attended the opening and at 12.00 they entered the exhibition site, accompanied by the thunder of cannons, fanfares and the cheers of the crowd. After a prayer by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the performance of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah’ by the collective London choirs and the great organ, Prince Albert stepped forward and, as chairman of the Royal Commission, delivered the opening speech. He once again described the aim of the exhibition as “the fertile promotion of all branches of human diligence and the strengthening of the bonds of peace amongst all the nations of the earth.” Two large steam boilers, which were of course integrated into the presentation, supplied the energy with which all the machines were centrally powered. Above all, an overwhelming abundance of every available product of international productive diligence – from the locomotive to the smallest precision clock – was displayed. From the colonies came primarily raw materials, which were skilfully arranged to symbolically represent the contribution of the under-developed countries to the world cycle of capitalism. The public were also impressed by exotic arts and crafts and stuffed wild animals. Art and crafts were given their own section according to the classification system. In these areas as well as in the production of luxury goods, the French exhibitors stood out particularly.specific emphasis on the education of the working classes. The social unrest of the European revolutions of 1848/49 was still fresh in people’s memories. Guided tours and concessions made visits to the world exhibition easier for them. Prince Albert was concerned about the workers’ difficult housing situation." The History of World Expositions http://www.expo2000.de/expo2000/geschichte/detail.php?wa_id=1&lang=1
So let us look at the UK contribution to Expo 2010
The United Kingdom has brought to Expo 2010 visitors a new version of the Crystal Palace – a dazzling cube formed by transparent acrylic rods containing seeds of different plants that were collected in a bio-diversity project. Thomas Heatherwick – Designer of UK Pavilion Born in London in 1971, he was trained as a designer at Manchester Metropolitan University and at the Royal College of Art, London. An honorary fellow of the RIBA, a Royal Designer for Industry, a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art he has honorary doctorates from Sheffield Hallam, Manchester Metropolitan, Brighton and Dundee Universities.
Themed "Building on the Past, Shaping our future", the 6000-square-meter UK pavilion is also known as the "Seed Cathedral" and the area around it is designed like a wrapping paper, making it seem as if the wrappers have fallen open to reveal a sparkling jewel of life. Visitors can relax around the open space or enter the "Seed Cathedral" to admire the seeds in the spines, marveling how such tiny seeds can produce wonders of nature and life. The UK pavilion hopes to raise awareness for the Millennium Seed Bank Project, an international conservation project launched by the Royal Botanic Gardens in 2000.
The six-storey cubic structure will have 60,000, seven-meter-long transparent acrylic rods, each with a seed inside, extending outward and quivering in the breeze. Visitors can get a close view of them. In the daytime, each rod will draw daylight to illuminate the interior of “Palace of Seeds”; at night, light sources in the rods will allow the whole structure to glow. Outside the main building, there will be a football-pitch-sized open area in the unique form of “an unfolded packing sheet”, symbolizing that the palace is a gift from the United Kingdom to Expo 2010 Shanghai China.
Since 1851 when the first World Exposition was held in London, corporations have always acted as a dynamic player on the stage of World Exposition with their great contributions to the scientific and technological progress and renovation of the mankind. Britain continues to lead the way with technological innovation and education plays a major role in that progress.
“Education will be a key theme for the UK’s Expo Programme. The UK Pavilion, which I am delighted to hear is one of the most eagerly awaited in the Expo, will be used as a venue both for education events and for receptions for the alumni who have studied in Cambridge and other British universities. From a figure of fewer than 3,000 Chinese studying at all levels in the UK in 1998, we currently estimate that there are now some 85,000 here, a number similar to those studying in the United States, despite the UK being very much smaller in geography and population. I am particularly proud that 700 Chinese citizens have chosen and been selected, to study at Cambridge.” – Alison Richard, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.
The "paper" area is as large as a standard football pitch and will be a public area for performances and for children to play football, just like a city park. The square will have performances every day including ballet, drama, orchestra and dance. Some UK football stars may be on hand to teach soccer skills to children. Much of the daily programming will concentrate on original and inventive comedy performance which draw on the UK’s great tradition of theatre – stretching back to William Shakespeare – and on the current international reputation of our artists and performers for original, inventive and crowd-pleasing work.
Visitors will be invited to watch, touch and recognize seeds of different plants as the core exhibition of the UK Pavilion. They will be surrounded by the seeds in a 20-meter-high hollow cube-like structure with the seeds embedded in the walls and ceilings. The "Seed Cathedral" is itself an object formed from 60,000-plus transparent acrylic rods containing seeds. The seeds demonstrate the concept of sustainability, the diversity of nature and the potential of life. During the daytime, each of these 7.5-meter-long rods will act like fibre optic filaments, drawing on daylight to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources embedded in each rod will allow the whole structure to glow.
A preview of the 2012 London Olympics is incorporated in the "Olympic Corner" The area features a large "green map" of the 2.5-square-kilometer Olympic Park in Stratford in East London, which will be turned into the largest city park in Britain.
Expo 2010 Shanghai China will explore the full potential of urban life in the 21st century and a significant period in urban evolution. 55% of the world population is expected to live in cities by the year 2010. The prospect of future urban life, a subject of global interest, concerns all nations, developed or less developed, and their people. Being the first World Exposition on the theme of city, Expo 2010 has attracted more than 190 countries and more than 50 international organizations. Almost 100 foreign leaders and upto 100 million visitors are expected to visit the largest world exposition ever staged.
The Shanghia City Pavilion
"Better City, Better Life."
Shanghai Corporate Joint Pavilion at the west part of the Shanghai World Expo site is an eco-building with intelligent technologies, dream-like atmospheres, and interactive experiences. The architectural design concept is originated from the Taoist theory "A harmonious combination of heaven, earth and man" and "Zhuang Zhou’s dream with butterfly," an ancient Chinese romantic story with philosophical meanings.
The 5.28 Sq km Expo Park straddling the Huangpu River is full of zero-carbon ideas: a London restaurant where plates are edible and cups are made out of ice; a green home that is heated by solar energy, recycled water, methane gas is used for cooking and plants on its roof provide oxygen . Amid global concerns over pollution and climate change, and in an effort to live up to its theme of "Better city, Better life", Shanghai organizers have made audience seats out of discarded plastic milk containers, handbags and tissues out of recycled paper, and use low-energy consuming LED screens, acoustic devices and electricity-powered vehicles in the Expo Park. The site also boasts a 4.7-megawatt solar power system, China’s largest, with panels installed on Expo buildings.
One iconic visitor to Shanghai is Denmark’s iconic Little Mermaid statue.It is the first time the 1.5 metre tall landmark has left Copenhagen Harbour since being erected in honour of author Hans Christian Andersen in 1913.
The Danish theme is "Welfairytales" – a combination of the words welfare and fairy tales – is arranged like a fairy tale in three chapters: the story of Danish cities, the story of the Danish people and the story of Danish technology and solutions for future urban living.
Visitors can ride bicycles at the Danish Pavilion.
pictures and some text: