Expo 2020: Swiss pavilion to highlight perils of space junk

A mountain-top view reminiscent of the Alps has been replicated on a hill built from recycled stone

It was the first nation to publish a rendering of how its Expo 2020 pavilion will look and, five years after signing up to the event, Switzerland is almost ready to welcome the world.

Glistening droplets of vapour will replicate the mountain fog of the Swiss Alps as visitors arrive, but it is the displays inside that promise to dazzle.

Innovation and sustainability – with one eye on cleaning up space junk orbiting the Earth – are some of the keys themes waiting for visitors when the huge glass panelled pavilion opens on October 1.

Space junk refers to unwanted objects or material left in space by human activity, such as pieces of old or destroyed equipment.

An early commitment to the Expo had given the Swiss plenty of time to develop a programme of events.

That has changed course in recent months to adapt to the new world in which we now live.

Manuel Salchli, commissioner general of the Swiss Pavilion and chairman of the Steering Committee at Expo 2020 Dubai, said the challenge was to find projects that people can relate to and will find interesting.

"As we know the general visitor will not spend more than 10 to 15 minutes inside before moving on,” said Mr Salchli.

“We have a two-fold exhibition, centering around sustainability and environmental protection issues to look after our country for visitors for years to come."

A big focus is the circular economy, he said. A circular economy is an approach to growth designed to benefit businesses, society, and the environment.

"We have changed the exhibition concept from a year ago to encompass this aspect,” said Mr Salchli.

“Switzerland is known to be a world leader in recycling.”

Benches and tables outside the pavilion have been made from recycled concrete and the facade has been designed with reusable textiles.

A panoramic mountain-top view has been replicated on a hill built from recycled stone, with high-tech sound and visuals helping to transport visitors to an idyllic setting.

“In the exhibition we will discuss new ways to produce energy and up-cycle products,” said Mr Salchli.

“For the general visitor we will also talk during space week about how Switzerland is trying to clean up space.

“There is a lot of waste up there and people do not necessarily know this.”

A special programme will invite 20,000 pupils and students to visit the pavilion to find out more about Switzerland.

Organisers also hope to attract students from UAE University to join a series of panels and workshops.

Five projects have been selected to look at new ways to recycle waste.

They will propose solutions and also reduce youth unemployment in the region by providing new avenues for industry.

“It is a competition, we are all friends, but we are all competing for the time of visitors,” said Mr Salchli.

“To generate buzz over six months of the Expo is important but the legacy is even more important. Experience has shown in previous Expos that the opening is crucial to gather momentum.

“If our legacy leaves a positive image of Switzerland and makes people want to visit our country, that would be a success."

Updated: August 21st 2021, 8:37 AM
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