“There is hardly a more relevant place imaginable to host the 2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders’ Dialogue than the Urban Best Practices Area of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo. The fact that the Shanghai World Expo was themed, ‘Better City, Better Life’, is of course important in this regard, but I would like to add a more metaphorical layer to this argument.
In many ways, the Expo is a city by itself. Aside from the overdose of architectural statements, the actual built volume is impressive. With that comes a fully developed multi-modal transport system and an infrastructural framework in full modernist tradition of split level circulation and stacked transport-modes.
The management, marketing and security organizations running the Expo are probably more developed than most medium-sized European cities. One can be sure that this Expo was preceded with many years of detailed planning, not unlike a city planning process. The transformations this event induces throughout the city of Shanghai are numerous and will leave their mark for many years ahead. And it is in the legacy that will follow, the Expo ground can prove its urban aspirations, hopefully more successfully than its two-year older brother of the Beijing Olympics.
While most of participants of the Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue, like most visitors, remain dazzled by the multitude of statements being thrown at spectators in the shape of architectural concepts and supersized promo-clips, the actual urban best practice of this Expo is yet to start speaking in what could be a true urban dialogue.”
About the Author
Ward Verbakel, a Belgian national, is an Architect and Urban Designer. He is the founder of the Plus Office Architects, an architectural firm in Brussels. He joined the 2nd Asia-Europe Young Urban Leaders Dialogue held at the Madrid Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo last 26-28 July 2010.