A gently rising landscape with a freely accessible
surface and exhibition inside: The German Pavilion was one of the main
attractions at Expo in Milan.
Many world exhibitions have made history. Sometimes, guests of state like German Chancellor Angela Merkel on 17 August give them a major boost. But often it is the countless little stories that happen on the periphery that make Expos so lovable. Hideo Fujii certainly has many a story to tell. The first world exhibition the Japanese visitor ever encountered was in his home country: the Osaka Expo in 1970. Since then he has been a big Expo fan. In Milan he happened to be the very first visitor to enter the German Pavilion on 1 May 2015. Half a year later, on 31 October, around three million people have already been inside the building and witnessed Germany’s approach to the Expo theme “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life”. “We wanted to raise awareness, encourage people to explore the topic of human nutrition and take action themselves,” the German Pavilion’s Commissioner General Dietmar Schmitz describes the concept.
The Pavilion took visitors on
an entertaining journey through the basic elements of nature: soil, water, climate
and biodiversity, all of which are important for human nutrition. It featured projects
and ideas for preserving our natural resources to help secure our future food
supply. “We offered visitors a wealth of information,” underlines Dietmar
Schmitz. “And they could pick the topics they wanted to explore in depth.” Wherever
they went in the “Fields of Ideas”, as the German Expo presence was titled, people
found interactive stations to try out. At the entrance they received a
SeedBoard – on the face of it a piece of cardboard you could open like a book,
which turned out to be a multimedia-based exhibition guide. Visitors could use
the playful tool to get more information on the exhibits and screens. In a
surprising and humorous manner they could discover what people, initiatives and
institutions in Germany are already doing in the spirit of the Expo theme.
At the end of the world exhibition
the German Pavilion will be dismantled. The lightweight construction with
reduced materials was intended as a temporary building from the start. “800
tonnes of steel will be melted down for future re-use elsewhere,” says Dietmar
Schmitz. “So we will give things and materials to others for further use.” The
computers will go to the Goethe Institute in Italy, the clothing to the Red
Cross unless the Pavilion staff want to keep it as a souvenir. The employed wood
will also be recycled. And what will happen to the staff members of the “German
House”? Some already work for the Pavilion operator Messe Frankfurt or were granted
leave by their employers specially for their time in Milan. Others will
continue their studies or have been taken on. “In the past most of our staff
found a good solution,” says Dietmar Schmitz. “Working for Expo strengthens
your personality and is good for your CV.” Some people may join us again for
future Expos. And there they may again meet globetrotter Hideo Fujii from Japan.
Author: Peter Borstel
This article was published in TFI issue 6/2015
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