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Rediscovering Nature's Wisdom

An artist's conception of the main exposition site,
where indoor(topos-style) and outdoor(domain-style) exhibits blend
harmoniously with their surroundings.

Details are currently being worked out on what visitors can expect to find at the 2005 World Exposition, which will reexamine various aspects of human activity in an Earthwide context under the theme of "Beyond Development: Rediscovering Nature's Wisdom." As part of this endeavor, the Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition released the interim proposals of its Concept, Venue Planning, and Environment Project Teams in July and November 1998.

The Concept Team report outlines "Twelve Faces of the Forest" to be explored during EXPO 2005. The concept of a forest divided into 12 faces, each representing a different subject, such as the Forest of the Universe, the Forest of Life, and the Forest of Information, will allow visitors to pursue each subject in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way. At the Forest of Earth's Memor‚™ , for instance, visitors will see "life from within," viewing the history of our planet and the life forms on it as a bird, fish, or ancient reptile might see them and then being led to a completely new type of natural history exhibit.

Basic Site Plan for EXPO 2005 (Ground Level)
The 540-hectare grounds of EXPO 2005 in the hills of Seto, a city east of Nagoya, will be divided into three zones. Main exhibition facilities will be built in Zone A, while Zones B and C will be preserved in their natural state as much as possible.

Zone A will not be cluttered with pavilions and other structures, though. Unlike earlier expositions, it will feature open-air display and exhibition spaces in the woods in keeping with the focus on learning from nature and seek new interfaces between humans and the environment. Indoor exhibits will make full use of the topography and rooftops will be utilized as public squares to keep landscaping and tree felling to a minimum. Instead of building on flat surfaces, exhibits and plazas will be contoured to the lie of the terrain. Other innovations include conceptualizing the entire exposition grounds as a single museum and staging operas and other performances in wooded areas.

"The theme of EXPO 2005 is to restore the human-nature interface," explains architect Kengo Kuma, who heads the Venue Planning Project Team. "To realize this, we must first of all reject the use of box-shaped buildings like the typical exposition pavilion. Showing images of nature inside such boxes or covering its walls with greenery would not mean anything. It is essential that we reject these boxes and instead create an interface through which humans and nature can be brought together smoothly in the forest. This is why we are proposing the use of 'topos-style' (indoor) and 'domain-type' (outdoor) spaces."

Innovations in keeping with the start of a new century are being considered to soften the environmental impact of approximately 25 million anticipated visitors milling around the exposition site during the six-month run. Plans calls for a full-scale recycling program and achieving zero waste emissions. On the energy front, the goals are to conserve 50%, generate 50% of the needed power using new sources, and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 75%. One way of reaching these targets is through an ambitious project to build a model "hydrogen recycling" community of the future that does not emit carbon dioxide.

The proposals by the project teams have yet to be finalized, but the association believes that by making them public and inviting comments, it can organize a more meaningful and memorable exposition. EXPO 2005 may be six years away, but the task of pooling human-kind's wisdom so we may learn from nature has already begun.

(Kimihiro Muraoka)