small countries

Teemu Kurkela. Finland Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010

Expos are strange things.  What are they for?  The Seville Expo was a chance to present post-Franco Spain to the world.   It seems that the Shanghai Expo is an opportunity for the world to present itself to China.  Each pavilion struggles to something about the identity, the ambitions, the intentions of its country.

Finland's pavilion, by Teemu Kurkela of JKMM Architects, is a serene bowl floating in a lake.  Minimal, calm, the sky looms large.

The Netherlands pavilion is an antic figure-eight street of little houses.  It looks much more interesting on site than in the presentation rendering, which looks absolutely mad.  John Körmeling is the architect; on his website is a left hand column of conceptual ideas often for highway treatments -- sections of roads that  float off into the sea, etc.  The right hand side shows the Expo project, called Happy Street.

One does get a sense of the intensity of the Netherlands: it has 16.5 million on 33,900 sq km, the size of Nova Scotia.  The open landscape of Finland has 5.4 million people on 338,000 sq km, half the size of Saskatchewan.  These two countries are small in area and population.  They both seem to have a clear idea of how to do a pavilion that says something significant about themselves. 

Is Canada too big?  I ask this rhetorically, as our pavilion says nothing that I can recognise about this country.  

John Körmeling. The Netherlands Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010