Thursday, May 31, 2012

Golf in Korea

The first thing I noticed as the plane landed was a golf course, right by the airport.  However, I subsequently was told there are not a lot of golf courses in Seoul. However, there are a lot of driving see them everywhere...these large green nets with multi-level platforms at one end with three or more levels of golfers.  Now why don't we do this in urban Canada?

The Hyundai Pavilion

Most of us in North America think of Hyundai as a car, but in Korea, Hyundai in a major conglomerate in many different fields...elevators, construction, public transit and much much more.  Their pavilion at EXPO was creative, both on the inside and the are just a few images as it changed colour! 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A very green EXPO 2012

The Vancouver Winter Olympics were promoted as the most sustainable ever...EXPO 2010 in Shanghai was promoted as the most sustainable ever...(and it certainly was innovative with its vacuum powered garbage collection, use of solar energy, net zero buildings and displays, etc.) Now EXPO 2012 in Yeosu is promoting sustainability in numerous ways, not only related to the oceans and coastal life...since a green future is evident in virtually every pavilion.

Some of the things that impressed me were the use of seaweed and other marine resources to generate power; Denmark's proposals for wind power, efforts to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags; Singapore's integrated approach to garbage recycling, collection and disposal, the approach by all Korean companies to become greener...LG's living is green...and the efforts of various Korean cities to be greener...words like Ecopolis, EcoCity permeate the site and displays.

 There were no vehicles permitted in the electric site, but outside the site I found a new fuel cell Hyundai, electric buses, and a new tram that runs on batteries.  Some parking areas for the new MVL Hotel (Most Valuable Life) are constructed from reinforced grass as are others around the site.
 New housing at EXPO general features many lights on timers and motion detectors (we're not doing this very much except in very limited situations) and various approaches to energy and water conservation (although toilets do have spritzers and showers often feature multi-heads!)
While Vancouver strives to become the greenest city in the world, I can't help but think we have a long way to go, not only compared with the Europeans, but now many Asian cities like Seoul.  And one of the longlasting benefits of this EXPO may be a generation of much more environmentally aware Koreans.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The nightly multi-media shows

Those of us who attended EXPO 86 in Vancouver never tired of watching the nightly laser show that concluded the days events.
At Yeosu, the nightly multi-media show starts off with exhuberent Korean kids singing and dancing to some ridiculous English language music, but then morphs into an incredible sound and light presentation featuring spectacular fountains, movie projections ontothe Big-O, a 43m-tall, oval monument that stands at the center on the Expo site.

To quote from the website: "Enclosed is a water screen that shows videos, while the outer rim is installed with devices that produce water jets, mist, flames, lights, lasers, etc. The Big-O also holds a variety of exciting shows, including a fountain show that features the world’s first hologram video technology. Finally, the “O” represents ‘ocean’ and the number “0” to further highlight the oceans as the fundamentals of a new beginning."

I am not technologically sophisticated enough to understand most of what's happening...but it sure was interesting to watch and thousands of others were enjoying it too.
 ps One of the shows I watched featured synchronized underwater swimmers...reminding me of Esther Williams.  Remember Esther Williams?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Best Public Art I Have Ever Seen

As I was wandering through the fairgrounds I noticed this sculpture of a man canterlevered off a pole in the central concourse. There was also a ladder against the pole which prompted me to think that this was an installation that had not been completed on time.  For whatever reason I decided to stop and watch as they installed the other sculpture that I could see wrapped up on the floor.
I was somewhat surprised to see two fellows get up a ladder to afix the other sculpture shrouded in a blue cloth. Again, for whatever reason I decided to stick must have taken ten minutes for them to lift the other sculpture into place, screw it into the pole and cantilever it out like the other one.
That was when I realized it wasn't just another was a human being balanced on a structure attached to the pole.  As the shroud and ladders were removed the public started to gather around. At first they thought there were two sculptures...but one seemed to be moving ever so slightly.  It was absolutely fascinating to watch.  Before long a very large crowd gathered and I moved on.  But I felt very fortunate to happen to see this installation being created. 
While we are now used to seeing people transformed into statues along the streets of the world, I had never seen anything quite like this. Kudos to whoever thought up the idea! It's the best public art I have ever seen.

Inside the EXPO Pavilions

Not surprisingly, the displays vary considerably between the pavilions, especially the international pavilions. Some are essentially playgrounds for children, while others address the maritime preservation theme in a very serious and significant way.
The Dutch Pavilion includes a very creative visual to demonstrate the impact of rising sea levels; the Swiss...yes I's not on the ocean...looks at water conservation in a very creative did the Danish Pavilion that was so well designed it was almost too well designed.

The Singapore Pavilion, as might be expected was superb and included many contributions from school children. I was surprised to learn the country must import some of its drinking water, and impressed to learn about its integrated solid waste management system.  The pavilion also offered the opportunity to take a bicycle ride through the streets of the city...very impressive. Kudos to Pavilion Director Bernard Tan and Pamela Shee who kindly showed me around.
The Climate and Environment Pavilion recreated the arctic in a very convincing fashion...

In the marine industry and technology building I was surprised to learn about research being undertaken to create biofuels, plastics and medical supplies from seaweed and other marine resources.
I was also impressed with a functioning desalination operation set up in the base of the SkyTower.
The German Pavilion had some excellent displays including one that created the sensation of walking on sand that was quite remarkable.
The Italian pavilion provided some wonderful interactive displays on the the various explorers who circumnavigated the world. However, it also featured the most poorly narrated video about any country I have ever watched. Instead of some animated Italian telling us about the delights of Italy, there is a monotonous North American voice is so bad you have to check it out if you attend the fair!

The Marine Civilization and Marine City Pavilion is wonderful and includes some clever models of future floating/underwater houses and cities.  I was fortunate to meet the lead designer...a creative guy in green sneakers who told me he and his team studies the literature on underwater cities in order to create the display. (Yes, he was sensitive about having a photo taken with someone so much taller!)  It is thought that it might be realistic to create such places by 2050 with water supplies provided through desalination, solar and biofuel (from seaweed) energy, etc..  While this seems fantastic, so did the first elevator, automobile and television...all of which were introduced as prototypes at previous World Expositions.

Many of the pavilions deal with the various threats to our environment.  As I watched yet another baby polar bear being separated from its mother by cracking ice flows, garbage being deposited on the ocean floor, and a turtle choking to death on a plastic bag in the United Arab Emirites Pavilion, I could not help but think this EXPO is going to transform the thinking of Koreans...especially the children...and make them much more environmentally aware.

EXPO 2012 Yeosu at Night

I arrived at the fair around 6:30 pm and as the sky darkened, the fairgrounds really started to come alive.  The lighting was very impressive especially as viewed from the top of the Sky Tower's viewing platform. I must confess at first I thought this viewing tower was a bit clumsy looking; it was not until the next morning when I started to read some briefing material that I discovered that it was built out of two abandoned concrete silos!
While the site has many highlights, I was particularly impressed with the Digital Gallery comprising a 218 metre LED screen above the central concourse. More about it later.
While many of the buildings are a bit dull by day, they are quite impressive at nightime. Lotte is a major Korean conglomerate that includes everything from TV shopping networks to real estate development. Speaking of networks, I assumed the building below was covered in netting to tie in with the fishing industry. But's symbolic of network! It's the pavilion of one of the country's foremost IT providers. And yes, apparently they use the word network in Korean too.