Crazy ideas from the Netherlands at Shanghai Expo

The Netherlands presents itself at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai as a creative country with “weird” and “innovative” ideas.

Happy Street is one of the most striking pavilions at the World Exhibition in Shanghai.

From 1 May till 31 October, the World Expo 2010 takes place in Shanghai. The World Expo, in existence since 1851, is one of the most important events in the world, in terms of economic and cultural impact. This year a total of 192 countries and 50 international organisations will participate, and it is expected that the World Expo will draw some 70 million visitors from the general public, as well as the business community.

By taking part in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, the Netherlands is presented with a unique opportunity to increase the awareness of Dutch cultural, business and technology successes and innovations amongst the Chinese business community and its people. Thus, the World Expo 2010 strengthens the basis for economic cooperation between the Dutch and Chinese business communities, and also promotes tourism from China.

The theme at the World Expo 2010 is ‘Better City, Better Life’. The theme is inspired by the prediction that 55 percent of the world’s population will live in cities in 2010. With ‘Better City, Better Life,’ the World Expo organization challenges participants to come up with ideas for liveable cities in the 21st century.

As a strongly urbanized and densely populated country, the Netherlands has a lot to offer in this area. In order to give visitors to the World Expo an image of Dutch successes and innovations in this area that is as broad and varied as possible, the Dutch government has not opted for a classic pavilion, but for a complete street, named “Happy Street”, designed by architect John Körmeling.

In Happy Street, Körmeling has developed his vision of an ideal city that has developed along a trade route; an area where all aspects of life flourish together. This as a reaction to modern town planning, where residential, commercial and industrial activities often take place in well-defined zones. With his design, Körmeling wants to make it clear that the Netherlands is on the cutting edge of better, more sustainable, and more human urban development.

Happy Street is a complete street in the shape of an eight, a lucky number to the Chinese, and stands out in particular because of its striking, playful, and very open design, that connects closely to the Netherlands’ identity. The intimacy of the pavilion, constructed as a small city with a view on the metropolis of Shanghai, reflects the Netherlands’ unique vision on integrating the human aspect in urban development projects.

The Netherlands is primarily targeting the expected 70 million general public and business visitors to the World Expo, and hopes to welcome at least 5 to 10 percent of those on Happy Street.

According to Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Ms. Maria van der Hoeven, Happy Street reinforces the strong position of the Netherlands in China. “With this pavilion, the Netherlands is promoting our country’s creativity, sustainability and innovation, precisely those areas where the Netherlands is a pioneer. The visitor who leaves the Dutch pavilion should have the feeling that if all initiatives he has seen and experienced are implemented, life in the city will become a lot more pleasant.”

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