Expo 2015: Ploughing the Fields of Ideas

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.

The Commissioner General of the German Pavilion, Dietmar Schmitz (r.) was delighted to welcome Angela Merkel. (Photo: Deutscher Pavillon)
The Commissioner General of the German Pavilion, Dietmar Schmitz (r.) was delighted to welcome Angela Merkel. (Photo: Deutscher Pavillon)

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.

Hideo Fujii from Japan shows his cap: He was the first visitor of the award-winning German Pavilion. (Photo: Deutscher Pavillon)
Hideo Fujii from Japan shows his cap: He was the first visitor of the award-winning German Pavilion. (Photo: Deutscher Pavillon)

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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