View of window-washers from the top of the WFC building (in front of Pearl Tower)

One of OHNY’s interns, Kathleen, spent the winter in Shanghai, the host city of the 2010 World Expo. This is the first time the World Expo (previously called World’s Fairs) will be held in a ‘developing’ country. The theme of the Expo is ‘“Better City, Better Life”: Representing the common wish of the whole humankind for a better living in future urban environments.’ No place is more acutely aware of urban obstacles and issues than China where 48% of the population already lives in urban areas—Shanghai being the largest.

China Pavilion Model (photograph taken inside the Urban Planning Museum)

With around 20 million residents, the bulk of Shanghai’s construction has been centered around housing and the development of financial/commercial centers. The Shanghai cityscape is constantly changing; construction propels residential towers and office buildings into reality on a regular basis. In 2008, the  Shanghai World Financial Center joined SOM’s Jin Mao Tower and the city’s signature Oriental Pearl Tower.  By the end of 2014 the city hopes to also add Gensler’s Shanghai Tower to the Pudong skyline. When completed, the Shanghai Tower will be second only to the Burj Khalifa as the largest building in the world. With such so much construction and global attention, the city has a vested interest in improving its urban practices and creating a ‘harmonious society’ (hexie shehui). According to the official site,, there are five sub-themes:

1.Blending of diverse cultures in the city
2.Economic prosperity in the city
3.Innovations of science and technology in the city
4.Remodeling of communities in the city
5.Improving interactions between urban and rural areas

The Expo seeks to encourage cross-cultural discussion on improving sustainable urban practices whilst presenting an impressive display of international pavilions. The China Pavilion, themed “Chinese wisdom in urban development,” is equipped with sustainable technologies such as solar panels, a natural ventilation system, and uses collected rainwater.

Haibao-Nanjing Lu

The mascot, Haibao, is a blue figure modeled after the Chinese character ‘ren’ meaning people. Here he is prominently displayed on Nanjing Lu, Shanghai’s famous shopping street.

The Expo Site from Lupu Bridge observation deck

The committee projects 70 million visitors will visit the Expo, a 5.28 km site along the Huangpu River, during the six month event (May 1 – October 31, 2010).

Near Xintiandi area in Shanghai

The Expo has been cited as a key factor in many of the city’s recent projects. Often though, grand-scale redevelopment projects are implemented at the expense of Shanghai’s older neighborhoods, including Shikumen-style houses–a style unique to Shanghai.

Huaihai Lu

As a whole, the city has made efforts to improve green space, provide adequate housing to its growing population, and to expand public transportation. If you’re headed to Shanghai don’t miss seeing this historic event! Take a few hours to wander through one of the largest World’s Fairs of all time, stop by the pavilions during the day or at night. For a complete list of pavilions with times and information click here.

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