Brazil is entered via a huge tensioned rope net that you walk across, over a garden below. It’s fun and unusual, and not to be attempted in high heels. The rest of the pavilion has a light fresh feel and interesting content, but quite a lot of this is delivered by underpowered projection that is washed out by the lightness of the space.
Best for unusual presentation formats
Qatar is an interesting pavilion with a lot of relevant content told in a variety of ways. The centre piece (which looks like a giant basket from outside) is a three storey spiralling walkway around a central projection-mapped feature. Slightly more style than substance, but no lack of effort!
Romania is a strange little pavilion, and the first time I’ve ever seen bi-fold doors made out of LED!
Best for splitting opinion
USA has a huge pavilion that’s supposed to look like a giant food truck. It’s impressive to be greeted by President Obama on video, and there’s some interesting content, but the main ‘show’ is a walk-through pulsed environment with a series of projected stories that to me just feel low budget and low effort. I hope they’ve worked out an alternative to the gaffer-taped arrows that were on the carpet when we visited…
Best for a sense of pride
The UAE pavilion is one of the largest pavilions in the EXPO, although you can’t tell that at first glance. It tends to have a long queue, and uses a range of presentation techniques including miniature Pepper’s Ghosts, Augmented Reality and a 4D cinema experience, as well as a huge Musion show, making it one of the most technically complex pavilions in the whole expo.
The experience that we have created for Expo 2020 Dubai is at the heart of the pavilion following the main UAE story. Its main audience is VIP groups, at which point it gets closed to the public, but at all other times it’s a fascinating glimpse into Dubai’s plans for 2020.
We won the project against some stiff competition, and had a fascinating six months developing and producing the content.
Best hidden gem
The European Union pavilion is tucked away among the Italian regions. Its main content is told through an animated film, which is very well made. For me it is just the right length, tells its story well, and has a few ‘4D’ effects for added enjoyment.
Best of the rest
These are all well presented pavilions in the tradition of Expos – interesting content told using a variety of techniques, telling you things about a country that you didn’t already know (or at least that I didn’t already know!)
Belgium is well designed, and takes you on an interesting journey, with demonstrations of hydroponics and discussion of the viability of insects as a sustainable source of protein.
Azerbaijan is also well designed, with some intriguing interactive elements, a variety of unusual video formats, good use of sound domes, and a lot of information about a country you may not know much about.
Monaco, is not to everyone’s taste, as it doesn’t play to stereotype, but for me this makes its message all the more effective, especially since the structure will be relocated to Burkina Faso to be used by the Red Cross after Expo.
Kazakhstan is apulsedpavilion, so always has a queue, but there is an outdoor stage to attract and entertain. Once inside, the experience begins with a live sand artist illustrating a brief history of the country. In marked contrast, the rest of the pavilion is a combination of effective multi-media installations which highlight the fact that Kazakhstan will be host to the next regional Expo in 2017.
Kuwait is also a pulsed pavilion, with a range of interesting content and some dramatic moments.
Best for food
I had the opportunity to enjoy food from Holland, Indonesia, South Korea, China, Spain, Thailand, Slovenia, Japan, Italy, Chile and the future food piazza, and there are plenty of other great restaurants to choose from!
Best evening entertainment