With the launch of the long awaited 'Expo 2020' emerging this autumn, we had the honour of getting in touch with different spokespeople across several factions of the Expo in order to spread knowledge and insight to what we can expect.
Below is an extract from an interview that KCDSpeaks conducted with Dietmar Schmitz, the Commissioner General of the German Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The German Pavilion looks promising in featuring many fascinating sites linking sustainability and opportunities & more. How will the pavilion be implementing sustainable resources in the construction and the actual running of the site?
As a pavilion in the field of sustainability and with Germany being a pioneer in the energy revolution, we pursue a sustainable pavilion design and concept for our CAMPUS GERMANY – that is the name of the German Pavilion.
There are various ways for ensuring a sustainable approach to a country pavilion, for instance low-energy air conditioning. In order to make the visit to the German Pavilion as pleasant as possible while at the same time preventing visitors from catching a cold because of drastic temperature fluctuations, we use an intelligent climate concept in which visitors are gradually cooled down from area to area. Only some of these areas are actively cooled, which allows the adjacent areas to be cooled down as well. In addition, due to the deliberate positioning of the building parts, certain visitor areas shade themselves so that less heat enters the building. Overall, we use the local climatic conditions to save as much energy as possible without this being at the expense of the visitors. Another sustainable element is the choice of construction material. We have decided to use a lightweight construction method in which the individual components of the building can be seen as a snapshot in the life of the materials. The roof consisting of steel braces, for example, can subsequently be used elsewhere. The underlying concept is entitled "Mine the Scrap" and digitally calculates the optimal new assembly of the existing elements. Here, too, innovation and sustainability go hand in hand.
How do you believe this will impact the mindset of people who visit the Pavilion?
The playful edutainment approach of CAMPUS GERMANY will be a fun learning experience and have a lasting impact on our visitors. In order to truly address everyone, our themes and content are aimed at all age groups and cultures. In our three sections on energy supply, the city of the future and biodiversity, the exhibits offer personalised information in German, English, and Arabic. Of course, we have also considered the youngest visitors: There are exhibits that were specially designed for children. The agency facts and fiction, which is responsible for the exhibition concept, worked with Armin Maiwald, the creator of the famous German children’s TV program entitled "Sendung mit der Maus", in order to make the important topics in the pavilion also accessible to children in a playful way.
What was the inspiration behind the design and execution of the German Pavilion?
In finding the design and concept of CAMPUS GERMANY, we were guided by the Expo's theme "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future" and the sub-theme "Sustainability", which the German Pavilion is dedicated to. The German Pavilion Consortium, namely the companies facts and fiction, NUSSLI Adunic and LAVA architects pitched the idea of the pavilion as a vertical campus. Its focus is on education, which is an important topic in the UAE, a very young and dynamic region. The campus theme is reflected both in the architecture as well as the interior design and exhibition. Much like on a real campus, the German Pavilion brings people together that share a common interest: designing a sustainable future for all.
How significant is the upcoming Expo in broadcasting new innovations and ideas?
An Expo is always very important for broadcasting innovations and ideas. Nowhere else do so many different people from all over the world come together and engage in conversations about our future. Every participating country showcases its most promising and future-oriented innovations and solutions for global problems. Right now, the Expo is more important than ever. It gives us the opportunity to continue our global exchange on the topics that are of great urgency for all of us and must not be forgotten besides the current news situation. Above all, this includes the topic of sustainability, to which the German Pavilion is committed.
What kind of events is the site going to be focused on? What can we look forward to?
Besides the exhibition with numerous unique exhibits that playfully show sustainable innovation in Germany, there are additional elements along the visitor journey that will surely catch everyone’s attention. At the very beginning of the tour, the visitors get to enjoy a huge ball pit. Each of the around 100,000 balls will tell a story, present a statistic, or spotlight a sustainability champion from Germany. Visitors will simply pick a ball and place it on one of the scanners to see a short presentation.
At the very end of the tour, visitors will experience the highlight of the tour: the emotional main show with swinging seats. During this show, they will all sit down on one of the swinging seats, where their task will be to make the seats swing in unison. The message is that even the smallest of movements can achieve great things – if we act together.
After the tour, the visitors can immerse themselves even further in German culture: on the main stage at the heart of CAMPUS GERMANY, we will show artists such as singers and dancers, bands and others who will perform for the audience. The show calendar will soon be available on our website.
What are you the most excited about in this project?
I think besides the fact that the world will finally come together again in Dubai, it is the interaction with the pavilion that I am most excited about. The German Pavilion uses an intelligent guidance system called IAMU. Each visitor receives a personalised name tag at the entrance that guides the visitors through the pavilion individually. The exhibits communicate with the visitor in German, English or Arabic and address them by their first names. The system also makes interaction with other visitors possible. In the main show, visitors are also addressed directly through this system. The direct and personal interaction in combination with the coordinated exhibition and architecture concepts will leave a lasting impression.
Could you share any anecdotes of the process in developing this site?
Our construction and design team initially had the idea of installing solar collectors on the roof of the German Pavilion - you would think this to be quite obvious when it comes to sustainability. However, further research revealed that due to the limited duration of the Expo, the collectors would not be sustainable in this case, as the installation and operation are less environmentally friendly than the current solution, where the roof can serve a new purpose after the Expo ends. This shows that the most obvious solution is not always the most sustainable one. We have all learned a lot in the process of designing this pavilion. And starting in October, we will pass this knowledge on to our visitors.
How does this year's Expo compare to the previous ones?
Some things are different at this Expo. Besides being the first Expo in the Arab world, it is also the first Expo that was postponed due to a global pandemic. When it comes to the Expo as such, however, I think the most striking difference is digital innovation: in addition to the local exhibitions, there will also be digital formats to give even more people the opportunity to dive into in the important content of the different pavilions. This is also in line with the spirit of today’s times and the current rethinking in the world of labour.
The idea for the Pavilion is to create a more sustainable world while making the learning aspect fun and engaging. How will you ensure that this is the case- and in what ways do you believe this will promote sustainability as a whole?
The concept of the German Pavilion is based on a university – therefore the name CAMPUS GERMANY. A university symbolises education, but also curiosity, an interest in a certain topic and a lot of fun. This is exactly what our campus conveys: our visitors choose to “enroll” at CAMPUS GERMANY to learn and experience new things. In the process, they receive important information on the topic of sustainability through playful elements and interaction with each other. And just like on a real campus, the German Pavilion also offers non-academic experiences such as our main stage at the heart of the pavilion, where we present German art, culture, and music in live shows. Our visitors become graduates in sustainability and take important messages for a more sustainable future home.
Anything else you wish to share with our readers?
If you happen to be a foodie, you must not miss the German restaurant inside of CAMPUS GERMANY. The restaurant is run by our partner Angerer & Obermayr, who also provided the catering for major events such as past Expos or the Olympic Games. The menu includes typical German dishes from all over the country. Of course, the menu has also been adapted to the local culture in our Muslim host country, which means pork is taboo. Nevertheless, we will meet visitors' expectations of typical German food. In this way, we will create a good mix of cultural adaptation and German food culture.