Shanghai, China – Leaders of the Chinese Department of Culture, held a press conference at the opening of World Expo 2010. They addressed the unusual theme chosen for this event, “Tornadoes, they don’t scare me.” President Hu Jintao said that this year alone, China has had to face earthquakes, floods and droughts, but no “twisters”. Always promoting the greatness of their nation, he proclaimed that China has effectively fought off tornadoes.
“Here is a tribute to all the hard work our people have endured in this battle against tornadoes, a battle we have won!”
In April of this year, China witnessed an earthquake in Qinghai province, and floods in the tourist destination city of Guilin. The worst drought, climatologists say, in 80 to 100 years, recently hit southern China, from Yunnan, eastward through Sichuan and Guizhou Provinces and the Guangxi region, including Guilin. Sandstorms are also common across central China, and one in March blanketed Beijing in a yellow-orange haze. In 2006. Typhoon Saomai, the worst storm to hit the country in 50 years, slammed into Shacheng Harbor in Fujian Province.
The central focus of the massive site of 5.28 square kilometers is the “Expo Boulevard” building, the main entrance, a central axis, division between zones A and B. Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering Stuttgart/Shanghai, who won the competition for the structure, waste no time in showing why their design was selected. As you enter the indoor-outdoor structure, you immediately become part of the message. The tensile membrane structure begins to blow in the wind, generated by teams of fans cleverly positioned beyond one’s view. From here, the visitor moves into the first of the 6 funnel-shaped structures, which come across as frozen moments in the path of a violently growing twister. Powerful bursts of air propel the visitor upwards, so as to experience the force of one of nature’s greatest destructive forces. The Chinese were specific in their intention to demonstrate the awesomeness of a disaster that has not recently ravaged their country. The visitor, as though he or she is a house torn from the ground spins around at an altitude of 30 meters, before falling back down and being caught by members of the Chinese equivalent of FEMA.
Five central theme pavilions at Expo 2010 explore various tornado concerns. They are called Tornado Footprints, Tornado Planet, Tornado Dwellers, Tornado Beings, and Tornado Dreams.
Tornado Footprints displays the many locations impacted by tornadoes, except for China, as well as the extent of devastation each time one touches down.
Tornado Planet shows the relationship between human imprint on the earth and how that has affected the character of tornadoes. In the first part of the exhibition, the “Road of Crisis” consisting of five chapters, reflects the destruction potential of tornadoes. The intention is to confront visitors forcefully with the question of how they want to live in the future. The second part, “Road of Solution”, offers possible approaches to reduce the frequency, duration and strength of this force of nature.
Tornado Dwellers pavilion contains video clips that narrate the exemplary stories of six real families from trailer parks around the world who have dared to live in tornado zones and since lost more than just their homes. This demonstrates how well the Chinese government takes care of its people.
Tornado Beings examines the growth of the infrastructure of modern twisters, the source of their development and energy. Visitors will walk through a “Circular Pipeline”, where they find insight into the workings of that powerful combination of elements usually hidden from their eyes.
Tornado Dreams shows a world without tornadoes. There is a massive IMAX style screen showing visions of trailer parks larger than anyone has previously considered, except in China, where these primitive homes are not necessary.
International and Corporate Pavilions
Numerous pavilions take up the theme with gusto. The most notable contributions by foreign nations are those of Denmark’s Bjark Ingalls Group, and the Holland’s by John Kormeling.