From Dubai to Osaka, Launching a New Kind of Expo by Japan
Looking ahead to both the world expos in Dubai in 2020 and in Osaka in 2025, Open Session on Expo 2020 Dubai invited four guest speakers involved with the Japan Pavilion at the Dubai expo. With Japan Pavilion Creative Advisor Seiichi Saito serving as moderator, the guests engaged in a lively discussion on a range of topics.
Organizer: PR Office, Japan Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai / Co-Organizer: Japan Institute of Design Promotion
Japan Pavilion Creative Advisor
Executive, Rhizomatiks Co., Ltd.
Japan Pavilion Creative Advisor
Director, POOL inc.
Japan Pavilion architecture design
Diector, YUKO NAGAYAMA & ASSOCIATES
Director for International Exhibitions
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
What can we do as the host nation of Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai?
Many people might not be aware of this but the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty are actually legacies of world fairs. Expos started off as industrial fairs and then became events to showcase national prestige, before evolving in the second half of the 20th century into places for demonstrating science and technology. Today the meaning of an expo is changing yet again, becoming a place for presenting solutions to international problems. In particular, the spread of the Internet has made the world feel so much closer. Against this backdrop, I would first like to ask the guests for their thoughts about what we can do at the Dubai Expo and what we can then take forward and link up with the expo in 2025, which we are hosting in Osaka.
What is truly singular about an expo is that people from countries all over the world participate in the event with a strong awareness of their national identity. As such, I hope that it can be form an occasion for visitors to take part actively and for this to lead to personal connections, empathy, and discussions. I hope that people take their experiences back home and then continue the discussions online.
The Japan Pavilion as a “crossing point” that connects ideas for solving problems with the future
We have been discussing the Japan Pavilion theme in terms of how an expo is not something that ends when you see it but rather should be something that the viewer can think about and connect with his or her own actions. As exemplified perhaps by the concept of wayosecchu, meaning a hybrid mix of both Western and native Japanese elements, Japan is a culture that is always producing something new by incorporating various things. Can we harness this approach and present the Japan Pavilion as a “crossing point” mixing ideas from Japan and the rest of the world, enhancing them, and connecting them with the future? Thinking also of the Osaka-Kansai expo that is promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I want the pavilion theme to reflect our hope that we can contribute to solving all kinds of dilemmas through the know-how cultivated by Japan as a country that has taken on many challenges in the process of its development.
Expressing connections between the cultures of Japan and the Middle East in the architecture of the Japan Pavilion
The architecture for the Japan Pavilion at the Dubai Expo integrates aspects of culture and know-how shared by Japan and the Middle East. If we compare traditional Japanese hemp leaf motifs and the arabesque in Islamic art, they both have similar geometrical patterns. Inspired by one theory that suggests our two cultures were once linked by the Silk Road, I decided to incorporate geometry into the pavilion design in ways that evoke these two types of patterns. My plan is also to cover the geometrical lattice part in a soft “layer” and shape it in such a way as to evoke origami paper folding. Origami was originally a form of etiquette, so I thought it was an appropriate choice as a facade that welcomes visitors to the pavilion. We also plan to install an environmental system within the pavilion structure whereby there are water basis in the courtyard and then a breezes passes over the water, cooling the space down through the heat that comes off the vaporizing water.
The expo as a “festival of knowledge”: A place for Japan to take the lead in advocating the Sustainable Development Goals
If we might regard the Olympics as a festival of sports, then an expo is a festival of knowledge, an event where different countries bring their technology and share their wisdom with others. And if we consider expos as places where social challenges are presented and then people from around the world bring ideas and insights for solving these challenges, then participating in an expo becomes very meaningful indeed. It is up to us to convey this as well as we can and to set up a structure whereby everyone can easily take part.
We have now arrived at a time in which problems of mobility connect to all kinds of issues, from community development to energy, the economy, architecture, and the state of humanity itself. Given the goal of achieving the SDGs by 2030, I hope that an expo, where all the expertise of the world comes together, can be a place where we can keep on making firmer and firmer proposals that look ten years into the future and beyond. For now, I want to join up the legacy from Expo 2020 Dubai with Expo 2025 Osaka-Kansai.
Will Japan demonstrate a new type of expo for the future at Dubai?
At the Dubai Expo, I want to tackle challenges that look ahead to the 2025 expo in Osaka. I think, for example, that it is very important to utilize virtual platforms and allow people to participate remotely. If we can do that, I think people’s sense of participation in the event will greatly increase.
If we are really going to connect 2020 and 2025, I hope we can establish some aspects of soft legacy for the expo, not least virtual spaces but also ways for young corporations to participate, so that these can become the achievements of 2025, and then continue developing into something that can be provided to countries and corporations in the future. After all, the theme of the Dubai Expo is Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.
I hope that Japan can maximize the expo as an event visited by over a million people, bringing together not only the abilities of people and corporations in Japan but also intersecting with technology from other countries and the know-how of different cultural spheres in order to produce sustainable systems that make the planet a better place, and then show these to everyone around the world.