On May 01, 2010 the World Expo 2010 opened in Shanghai, China. Besides other things, its a venerable feast of architecture
Countries have come out with their best architectural foot forward and some of the national pavilions are stunning examples of the contemporary architectural vocabulary of those countries. However all attempts to get a better look at the Indian Pavilion at the Expo has been a disappointing task.
The above picture is one of the few official ones that have been released by the Chinese Expo Authority. And the Director of the Indian Pavilion Rajesh Kumar, can be seen here talking about the design.
Ganesh Ramachandran at UrbanSlate critiques the pavilion:
The pavilion designs for India …for the oncoming Shanghai Expo is a multi million dollar incongruity at the expense of the countries’ tax payers. The theme of expo is “Better city, Better life”, a very timely theme indeed when more than half the world’s population live in cities. To which……… the Indian design team answers the call with a design that resembles a burial mound for Buddhist relics from 3rd century BC – the Sanchi Stupa. [link]
However the Indian media is either ignorant of this event and the pavilion, or in the case where they do talk about it, they completely miss the point.
In this self-congratulatory story The Hindu writes
Sandwiched between the two most expensive pavilions is India’s, which, perhaps, is the structure that most represents the Expo’s now almost-forgotten theme — “better city, better life,” a call for sustainable urban development.
Last week, Indian designers and Chinese engineers were working to put finishing touches to the $9-million pavilion, which will be unveiled next month.
The design is inspired by the Sanchi Stupa. It’s defining feature is a 35 metre-wide dome which will be the world’s biggest bamboo structure.
The design, conceived by D.R. Naidu of Design C, seeks to make a green statement, “expounding harmonious living as a way of life.”
“What we want to convey through this pavilion is [not only] a message for sustainable development, but also India’s own sense of harmony, through the ages,” said Arindam Ryan Roy Chowdhury, a project manager for Design C at the Expo site. [link]
Joe Drury at China Briefing has an interesting account of the pavilion design.
India is home to over 2,000 ethnic groups, speaking over 1,600 languages and dialects and worshipping every major religion. At the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, India’s 4,000 square meter pavilion stands as a monument to its ability to forge a sense of harmony and national unity from this disparate society despite the contradictions and sometimes violent differences that naturally arise in such an environment.
With the theme “Cities of Harmony,” the pavilion by extension also projects an international message of global unity, especially relevant to India as the country experiences the natural growing pains of greater influence in Asia and abroad. [link]
Many would today question the very idea of a World Expo. It started in the late 19th Century as a way of bringing the world as a microcosm to a distant place. However in today’s day and age of instant imagery and media, a lot of the original purpose of the mega events is somehow lost. Countries spend millions of dollars to one-up each other and these pavilions may land up being giant billboards of a country.
In this scenario, where do you think India’s pavilion stands? If you have had a chance to visit the Pavilion, please express your thoughts.