The ‘Urbanian Pavilion’ is one of the five large Chinese pavilions made for the World Expo Shanghai 2010. The pavilion focuses on the theme ‘Urban Population’ and the quality of life in the city. Half of the world’s population currently lives in cities. By 2050, this percentage is expected to have increased to 75%.
In the ‘Urbanian Pavilion’ six families from six different cities from all six continents are followed and compared in their search for happiness. The pavilion highlights the most important themes that influence the quality of life in a city: a healthy and safe environment, ample and satisfying work, good education possibilities and a rich social network. The exhibition also shows why the city, with its diversity and possibilities, is so attractive for so many people.
During a 45-minute ‘urban walk’ through a theatrically designed, immense and monumental metropolis visitors pass through five different sub-pavilions. The five pavilions HOME, WORK, CONNECTED, LEARN and HEALTH, all have specific multimedia design and each present an important aspect of life in a large city. Videos of the 6 families can be seen on synchronized multiscreen projections. Statistical facts and personal stories each complement each other. By combining real family (micro-) stories with macro-statistics illustrating the important quality of life themes it is easier for visitors to become aware of the theme of urbanization at the macro level. The choices you make as an individual fit into a global phenomenon of urbanization. By telling several stories simultaneously we create a situation in which visitors can draw comparisons and can have free associations for themselves.
The themed subpavilions each differ in scale and atmosphere through the use of synchronized multi-screen projections, light, sound and odor. To stimulate the visitor’s imagination the city is not represented literally, but composed of ‘as found’ objects. Plastic crates form the large skyscrapers of the ‘residential area’; thousands of milk cartons together form the organized suburbs. Empty paint cans become the impressive wall of a huge factory and stacks of office furniture turn into a huge concrete office building. Cardboard boxes suggest a skyline. During the walk through the pavilion the visitor can experience this ‘city’ in many different ways. Each turn offers new vistas and perspectives. Changes of light and sound show the city during the day, evening and at night.
A lot of senses are addressed through the balanced mix of space, collections, images, text, light, photography, film, sound, new media and interaction. The visitor is immersed in an experience full of content and impact that provokes new ideas and so he becomes part of the narrative. In the pavilion visitors physically meet each other and can share life, comments and most important: collective experiences.
The ‘Urbanian Pavilion’ was one of the largest exhibitions at the World Expo 2010, with a total floor area of 15,000 m2 and a ceiling height of 22 meters. In total 6 million people visited the pavilion.