Back in May, I visited the 2010 Shanghai Expo. I was in China to help lead a creative cities symposium in Hong Kong and then as a speaker (with Finland’s/Kone’s Anne Stenros, The Young Foundation’s Geoff Mulgan, Shanghai academic Wenhui Shan and others) on a 'social life of cities' panel at Cisco's Partnership for Urban Innovation conference in Shanghai.
The Expo is old news now, in a way, as it's been covered elsewhere in depth (and breadth) and is coming to an end any day. Of course it is wonderful, thought-provoking, banal, confronting and inspiring all at once. Most of that coverage has focused on the architecture and other experience of the country pavilions, not unreasonably. There are some extraordinary buildings and spaces, for sure — such as Heatherwick's UK pavilion (the winner), the Netherlands, the Danish pavilion by BIG, Austria's, China's, Switzerland's, Spain's and Australia's— and I'll follow this with a few notes on what I saw of all that.
But it's worth noting that the country pavilions are only one part of the show. The site is vast, and they cover a good proportion of it, but there are also pavilions for cities, regions and themes, such as Urban Best Practices (which features your correspondent, of which more later). There are also pavilions for corporations and industries. You'll wander past a vast building with just 'OIL' written on it, for instance.
I thought I’d write about two of these corporate pavilions, however, featuring some EXCLUSIVE (possibly, maybe) footage from both, as these experiences may be as revealing of 2010 as any other part of the Expo. In particular, I’m still trying to understand why the future city visions in both the General Motors and Cisco pavilion experiences share almost exactly the same narrative.