I just returned from a visit to Expo 2017 in Kazakhstan and thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Though it’s a small fair in a remote country (at least for those of us in the USA), I thought it was well done and offered more than expected.
Here a few things I enjoyed about it, and one thing I didn't.
An Expo is a unique place where we can learn from each other in a spirit of cooperation, and, where we can learn with each other, in a spirit of innovation. Expo 2017 Astana is a platform of education and exchange on “Future Energy”, where this complex subject is addressed by continued debate through meetings, conferences, forums and round table discussions.
The Future Energy Forum (FEF) is a key working event of Expo 2017, hosting a series of 12 dedicated conferences between 29 June and 5 September. Organised in the Expo Congress Centre under the banner of “Building the Future, Saving the Planet”, FEF provides a platform for the discussion of the key energy challenges highlighted within the Expo’s national, international and thematic pavilions. It is thus an opportunity to tackle strategic priorities and the key energy challenges that the planet faces: climate change, poverty, water access, and biodiversity.
The seventh UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, is a global economic and social priority, as reflected by one of the three subthemes of Expo 2017 Astana: “Energy for All”.
In his opening message to Expo 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated the fact that “Energy is vital to our lives [...] Access to energy helps children to study at night, farmers to grow more crops and hospitals to provide better care.”
How can exhibits captivate minds and educate a large and varied audience on the subject of “Future Energy”? As a Specialised Expo, Expo 2017 Astana brings the challenges and issues around its theme to a large audience, an objective that is achieved through architecture, forums, meetings, displays and, importantly, by an array of techniques and new technologies that offer deep and dynamic experiences with the Expo 2017’s “Future Energy” theme.
Interaction is key. In Austria’s pavilion, visitors have the chance to interact with the exhibits themselves to measure the real power of energy by using their own bodies to produce energy. This involves pulling weights to spin turbines and pedalling on bikes to generate enough energy to power different screens, culminating in an impressive musical performance.
The vast cutural and entertainment programme is a major part of the Expo experience, with visitors spoiled for choice among the different shows, performances and spectacles on offer. Expo 2017 Astana proposes thousands of cultural activities throughout its three-month duration, with something for everyone.
Every night on the Expo site, the Amphitheatre hosts concerts from Kazakh and international artists and musicians, drawing crowds to a host of celebrations. The Expo Amphitheatre has already welcomed local star Dimash Kudaibergen and is to feature Dutch DJ Afrojack next week, among many others such as Steve Aoki on 29 July and the MTV Festival on 19 August. Additionally, numerous other venues in town are also hosting concerts such as Black Star on 8 July last night or Eros Ramazzotti next month, on 19 August.
Designed by prominent American architect duo Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, Nur Alem, the stunning sphere at the centre of Expo 2017 Astana, is the largest spherical building in the world with a diameter of 80 metres.
The 5,000m2 ground floor houses the Kazakhstan national pavilion, introducing visitors to the host country and its vision of “Future Energy” firstly via interactive images of Kazakhstan’s geography and cultural traditions.
The sphere-shaped Kazakhstan pavilion designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill at the centre of the Expo 2017’s site is the latest addition to the city’s bold and diverse architecture, and its intellectual legacy will be a boost to the city’s striking status as contemporary and business capital of the country.
What is perhaps most astounding about Astana is the progress and development the city has made in just two decades. Originally Akmoly, the city was declared capital of Kazakhstan only in 1997, replacing Almaty in the south of the country. As a result, Astana is a planned city, straddling the right and left banks of the Ishim River.
Passports give us the opportunity to cross borders and discover new horizons, while keeping a record of our journeys throughout the world. As the first day of the "Week at Expo 2017" series, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo passports and their continued popularity to this day.
Organisers of Expo 1967 Montreal first issued Expo passports as a novel form of ticket, with a separate page for each participating country to encourage visits to as many pavilions as possible. Visitors could either purchase an adult passport, or a youth passport. Shaped like a small booklet, these “passports” were sold at the entrance to the Expo site, and have since become one of the most popular souvenirs for visitors who want to keep track of all the different pavilions they visit.
Every Expo is a one-of-a-kind experience. Yet there are things they have in common that make the case for why everyone should go to one.
With Expo 2017 Astana coming up, here are my top reasons to go: