The Australian pavilion promises to take millions of visitors on a journey beyond the stereotypical images of the country (Ayers Rock, kangaroos, Crocodile Dundee) by creating a "three-act" pavilion tour. In Act 1, "Journey," visitors will meet aboriginal tribes (or, at least, wax copies of them), and will peruse a tranquil 50,000 year-old landscape in the largest of the exhibition halls. In Act 2, "Discover," visitors will find a "stunning audio-visual presentation" focusing on the many dichotomies that make Australia unique, such as the relationship between urban and natural environments, local and international commerce, and so on. Act 3, "Enjoy," will provide visitors a more tactile experience featuring mock urban landscapes and souvenir stalls.
Theme: City of Kites
The Mexican pavilion uses kites in its design as a point of commonality between Mexican and Chinese cultures. Kites were invented long ago in China, but are popular childhood toys in both countries. The kites, planted firmly in a grassy slope, also provide shade and an open space designed for rest and relaxation. The pavilion, called "Kite City," will comprise 135 kites covering a grassy slope of 4,000 square meters. Each kite will be about 8 meters long and 4 meters wide atop a pole 3-13 meters tall. From a distance, the pavilion won’t look like a building at all but a green hill covered with colorful kites. In this way, the designers also hope to create an open, green space where Expo visitors can enjoy a natural park area, just as citizens of modern cities should do.
Theme: Powered by Nature
Norway hopes to share their uses of renewable energy resources, water purification techniques and new methods of sustainable development with the pavilion’s visitors. The pavilion structure rests on 15 "trees" – artistic pillars of Norwegian laminated wood created to represent real trees with roots and branches. The trees will support a large canvas roof raised high above visitors. Every evening, the Norwegian pavilion will present an arctic landscape show, and (relatively) fresh Norwegian salmon will be available at the pavilion restaurant.
Theme: Water and Mankind
Water, plain and simple, was the inspiration behind Russia’s fountain-themed pavilion. The pavilion was inspired by the Samson Fountain in Saint Petersburg, said to be one of the finest in Europe, with jet heights reaching over 20 meters. While the pavilion was unable to completely reproduce the Samson’s grandeur, it does plan to offer a water-filled Expo experience. The structure will house two distinct exhibits – "Water as Vital Resource" and "Water as Menace" – and will take visitors on a tour of oceans, inland waters, permafrost, and just about any other form water can take. Like many other countries, the Russian pavilion will also showcase cutting-edge sustainable water technologies.
Theme: Spirit of Innovation
Keeping with the Expo’s sustainability theme, the Swedish pavilion aims to reflect the inextricable link between "nature, optimism and city" by creating an interactive environment meant to represent a "meeting place rather than a showroom." The space will be divided into sections to represent the environmental services offered by Sweden, including water filtration and disposal, indoor-climate control, energy, waste and refuse, transport, and raw materials.
The German pavilion was designed to bring attention to the balance between "renewal and preservation, community and individual development, and globalization and nationality." Architects hope that the structure will emphasize form and art rather than a physical space, and envision the pavilion as a walk-though sculpture with no separation between interior and exterior. Visitors will flow along a prescribed route, moving between bridges, escalators and moving walkways on a long promenade. Each of the four exhibition structures is intended to be seen as out of balance on its own, but when combined, they achieve an aesthetic harmony.
Theme: Sharing Inspiration
The Finnish pavilion was created with the intention of integrating "freedom, creativity, innovation, community and health." The structure was deliberately designed to look like a kirnu, a Finn word for a rocky hollow formed along the seashore. However, kirnu is also used colloquially to mean "an exchange of ideas," and the pavilion structure will therefore resemble a big white bowl within which people from around the world will mingle and share different perspectives. Visitors will also be able to gaze through the open-air ceiling and relax along the banks of the kirnu, surrounded by watery moat.
United Arab Emirates
Theme: The Dune
It seems fitting that the UAE would construct a pavilion in the likeness of a 20-meter sand dune, but designers had more than just a desert landscape in mind when creating the impressive 3,000 square-meter structure. In addition, the UAE pavilion is oriented in the direction of the wind to serve as a "powerful example of an organic and highly effective passive environmental design." The complex structure is primarily composed of a lattice of flat stainless steel panels, joined by adjustable nodes for quick, eco-friendly deconstruction. The UAE also plans to use the pavilion as a stage to introduce projects such as the "Masdar Initiative," a new 6 million-square-meter carbon-neutral, zero-waste community in Abu Dhabi – similar to the Dongtan Eco City project originally slated to be finished just outside of Shanghai prior to the Expo, but currently on hold after a corruption scandal.
The United Kingdom
Theme: Pavilion of Ideas
One of the most unorthodox pavilion designs comes in the form of the "lit-cube" UK pavilion, created by Heatherwick Studio (the same architectural firm responsible for the London Eye, the largest Ferris wheel in the world). According to a recent poll of Shanghai residents, this pavilion is also the city’s favorite, with an eye-catching bundle of "spines" emanating from the pavilion core. Each spine is only loosely suspended and able to undulate with the breeze, creating an "organic" effect. But the real kicker is the fiber optic display created by the thousands of miniature lights glowing from the tips of each spine, able to project anything from abstract color schemes to an oversized picture of David Beckham.
Theme: The Brain Cell
The Belgian expo committee decided upon a brain cell-themed pavilion, including a gigantic orange brain cell the size of a truck. The pavilion will be built from transparent materials, suggesting that Belgium is open to new ideas and peoples. Belgian architects admit that it was difficult to top the visual cacophony of the hundreds of neighboring pavilions, and thus decided that the simple yet bizarre window-into-the-brain-cell design was sure to make a lasting impression on visitors.