Expo 2010 was held in Shanghai, China. At this international Expo, 16 private enterprises in China jointed to participate in the exhibition at the pavilion. Through a major advertising agency in Japan, we were involved from the planning and development stages, through to its completion.
The client, a Chinese private enterprise group, is a group of companies symbolizing the remarkable economic growth in China, and requested a prominent and gorgeous presentation, and we were able to produce a bold design that ordinarily could not be realized in Japan.
In addition, the plan was for a single pavilion with a total floor space of more than 5,000 sqm, and the unusual schedule allowed us 1 year from start to finish.
The exterior design based on the exhibition theme resulted in an organically rippled shape using shiny materials of various colors. The exterior would be illuminated at night, and the production of the illumination would work in conjunction with the large LED screen on the exterior wall.
The waiting space sparkles from the reflection of lights on the exterior wall, and art reflecting the motif of the city’s energy is displayed from the ceiling. In the prologue area called “Taikyoku ~ the beginning of vitality”, along with a welcome message from each of the private enterprise companies, there was an exhibition regarding Taikyoku, a representative core of China recognized throughout the world. The dynamic humanoid model is made using business cards from each of the private enterprises. In addition, the philosophy of yin and yang which exists in Taikyoku, was represented by a device which generated water drops and ripples on the water’s surface (ultrasonic oscillator), and making use of video, lighting and sound, we made full use of and directed the atmosphere of the entire space.
After passing through the prologue area, with the backdrop of the Chinese climate where the private enterprises grew, the rise of “vitality” is introduced in 4 exhibition rooms (Cylinders 1 to 4) on the way to the main show. Cylinder 1 is “Winter ~ departure”. It expresses the difficult situation brought on by snow and storms. In the snowy mountain scene, a snow machine is used to make it snow. In addition, we used sand to express the shape of the snowy field. Cylinder 2 is “Spring – breath of vitality”. Future cities full of the breath of life are displayed on screens placed on both sides of the aisle. Cylinder 3 is “Summer – with the sun”. The entire space is a screen, and visitors are surrounded by the night view of a city where rich life is nurtured. The area featured an interactive element where visitors could throw small balls toward the screen to see fireworks light the sky.
Cylinder 4 is “Autumn ~ city and nature”. It is a world in which transportation and buildings in the city are harmonized with nature. Buildings, roads and cars become dioramas spreading throughout the space, beautiful flowers are reflected in the kaleidoscope, and the images produced in the space changed with applause and cheers of the visitors. Two speakers play sounds of nature and move in circles using Fisher’s wire control technology. These four exhibition rooms lead to the main show, “Four Seasons – Vitality Matrix”
The main show, “Four Seasons – Vitality Matrix” is a comprehensive entertainment space devised by Chinese renowned directors, Wang and Han. In collaboration with the world’s best wire action technology “Floating Sphere”, 1008 spheres danced in the air illustrating various landscapes. In addition to video, lighting and music, the performance of dancers unleashed an unrivaled entertainment experience.
In directing this performance of the main show featuring 1008 spheres, we consulted with FTSI (currently TAIT) in the United States, who has extensive experience in theaters, theme parks, events, movies, and the world’s top-class wire action control technology. The design and production of the control equipment for the main show was done in the US. This was now a project that spanned across 3 countries, China, Japan and the United States. The mechanical design, production programming, and production of the mechanism used for production was carried out by a factory in Las Vegas. The inspection and testing of equipment was done in full-scale at the Las Vegas factory, by tentatively assembling the equipment. Since the client in China was unable to make it to the US for the tests, inspection was carried out real time online using multidimensional relay between the US, Shanghai where the client was located, and Fujian Province, where the supervisor of the exhibition was located.
When transporting the equipment to China, there were hurdles at customs and the delay caused the shortening of construction period on-site. Even after assembly, we coordinated with directors Wang and Han to make adjustments to the program, but were able to meet the opening day deadline.
Our job includes ensuring exhibits and productions are operating normally during the event period. Maintenance including inspection before opening, and after closing, as well as emergency maintenance was handled appropriately. The water basin in the prologue area was cleaned and water was changed every day because it would get dirty by visitors touching it. At times, visitors would move the underwater, ultrasonic oscillator, and there was need to correct its position.
The snow machine in Cylinder 1 used a chemical to produce snow, and we had the task of climbing to the ceiling every day to confirm the remaining amount of chemicals and replenishing it if necessary. It was also necessary to clean the nozzle, as clogging would cause the snow disperse unevenly and adjustment after it got clogged was difficult. In Cylinder 4, visitors would sometimes take the minicars used for decoration, or the building blocks would be dropped between the handrail and wall, or on the central screen, and retrieving them and setting them back up proved to be a troublesome task. In the main show, there were instances where some of the 1008 spheres dropped off of the wire, or the motor and wire drum stopped working and our efforts in recovery were also tested.
There are also hardships in overseas business operations, different than problems that occur domestically. First, there is a language barrier. There were interpreters and staff who understood Japanese but it was difficult communicating technical terms and subtle nuances during meetings. There were various customs regarding construction in each of the countries that would not be common sense in Japan. Confirmation of work procedures would be reported collectively, but later required to be presented individually per process. There were times when it was necessary for factories to process materials prior to shipment, but the shipment would arrive and the materials would be processed on-site. In regard to cleaning the workspace or tidying up, it sometimes required arrangement through specialized staff.
Additionally, the construction period was mid-winter and very cold. The local workers may have been accustomed to the cold but it was too cold, even for the American staff who came for setup of the main show and there were many requests to turn on the heater. There were difficulties in terms of meals as well. Since breakfast and dinner would be our responsibility off-site, we were able to choose Japanese food, but boxed lunches would be ordered for lunch on-site and some of the Japanese staff members had a difficult time with the “local taste”.
We successfully completed the 6-month session that lasted from May 1, 2010 to October 31, 2010, without major incident. At this exposition, this pavilion received the “Private Company Pavilion Best 8 Award” and “Best Performance Award”.
An International Exposition is an exposition where more than two countries participate under the International Fair Treaty (BIE Convention). This International Expo was mainly divided into “Registration Expo” and “Certified Expo”, differentiated by the size of the venue, period of exhibition, and various themes. (Previously divided into “General Expo” and “Special Expo”.)
The “Registration Expo” is held at least five years apart. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Expo has been held in 2005 at the Aichi Expo, 2010 at the Shanghai Expo, 2015 at the Milan Expo, and will be held in 2020 at the Dubai Expo. In addition, the exposition which holds a clear theme, limited size or exhibition period is classified as “Certified Expo”. It is not possible to hold Registered and Certified International Expositions in the same year. Pavilion production at overseas expos with requests for special modeling and production is one of great strengths.