Ancient construction techniques will merge with modern design to create one of the world’s largest wooden structures on a Japanese island that is being prepared to host the next World Expo.
The giant timber canopy will be the symbol of and main staging ground for Expo 2025 Osaka.
Once completed, the great ring roof, covered with greenery and flowers, will form an aerial corridor that will give millions of visitors a bird’s eye view of the Expo site below.
After a successful Expo 2020 Dubai ended in March this year, the baton was handed over to Osaka.
This will be Japan’s third such event ― Osaka hosted Asia’s first World Expo in 1970.
The Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition said preparatory work had begun on Yumeshima, a man-made island in the southern Osaka Bay area.
“We are carrying out construction work,” a representative of the association told The National.
“Preparation is on at the site on which pavilions will be constructed, laying of water supply and sewerage, electricity, communication pipes.
“Construction is under way for the handover of the plots for countries who will be building self-built pavilions after April 13, 2023.”
The expo will run from April to October 2025 under the theme "Designing future society of our lives".
Once open, millions of visitors will be able to stroll on a two-kilometre roof that will be constructed using traditional Japanese techniques use in ancient temples to join wooden beams and pillars.
The five-storey structure will also act as an enormous sunshade to shelter people from the sun, rain and wind.
Design information shared by organisers shows a gently sloping roof soaring from 12m to 20m high with observation spots overlooking the sea.
At the heart of the design is a central principle of "one sky".
When Japanese officials submitted a masterplan two years ago to the Bureau International des Expositions, the organisers of world’s fairs, they spoke of "one sky as a symbol of connection".
“The sky connects all parts of the world. It is what people all over the world share. The one sky thus represents unity in diversity. The Expo venue will have the one sky in it,” according to the masterplan.
Another ambition is to display cutting-edge digital and carbon-neutral technology as part of plans to present "a laboratory for a future society".
A portion of the sea will be drawn in to create a water crescent that will be a zone for waterfront activities.
A forest of tranquillity, or a quiet space filled with trees, will be among other attractions so visitors can take a break from the crowds expected at the Expo.
Dimitri S Kerkentzes, the BIE’s secretary general, was pleased with the momentum to deliver the mega event.
“With its theme requiring us to meet the challenge of designing future society, Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai is a springboard for achieving and going beyond the sustainable development goals,” he said during an October global planning meeting in Osaka.
Koji Haneda, commissioner general of Expo 2025 Osaka, said he was looking forward to welcoming a stronger community that had weathered the pandemic.
“We must look beyond the post Covid-19 world, and envision a resilient and sustainable society for the future,” he said.
“I am confident Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai will provide an excellent opportunity for the global community to experiment and demonstrate a desirable way of life in the future.”
Other designs to watch out for will be a themed project called the Totality of Life.
A space station, an underwater vessel and a large tree will be set up to get people thinking about protecting life and rediscovering the universe.
During Expo 2020 Dubai, visitors and UAE residents often expressed an interest in visiting the next world fair.
Organisers estimate more than 28 million visits at Osaka with 150 countries and 25 international groups participating.
Japanese officials have said diversity and unique offerings would be common factors between Osaka and Dubai.
They have spoken about what they learnt from the Dubai Expo, which hosted theme weeks and welcomed heads of government, diplomats, celebrities and business leaders to draw large crowds.
“Expo 2020 Dubai presented a new model to World Expo,” Hiroyuki Ishige, secretary general of Japan’s Expo, told The National.
“We would like visitors to not only see the pavilions of each participating country at the venue, but also take in the nature, sea and sky of Japan.”