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Pavilion design award recognises NZ creativity

27 July 2005

Expo pavilion design award recognises NZ creativity

New Zealand’s pavilion at the 2005 Aichi World Expo in Japan has been chosen by the Expo organisers as one of the top three in the “single pavilion” category, and one of the top 12 overall out of more 130 national pavilions.

The award recognises the successful collaboration of some of New Zealand’s most highly creative firms and individuals in a team put together by Wellington exhibition designers Story! Inc, whose work includes the internationally acclaimed Lord of the Rings Exhibition for Te Papa.

“Cross-pollination of ideas is a growing trend in New Zealand’s design and technology industries and the Expo pavilion provides an opportunity to communicate this on the international stage,” said Story! Inc Director, James McLean.

The pavilion was commissioned by the New Zealand Government, under the guidance of a committee including representatives New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand, Creative New Zealand and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade. Its aim is to provide international visitors – up to 25,000 a day – with an experience to remember, encouraging trade and tourism.

Warren and Mahoney, one of New Zealand’s leading architectural firms, were the pavilion architects.

The overarching 2005 Expo theme is “Nature’s Wisdom”. Warren and Mahoney’s sustainable design specialist, Graeme Finlay, said this underlines the growing global awareness of the social and commercial importance of sustainable development.

“The New Zealand Pavilion doesn’t only tell the story of New Zealand’s innovative creativity and technological spirit. It is, itself, is a great collaborative example of precisely this,” he said.

The team included exhibition designers and fabricators, film makers, specialist effects designers, lighting designers, artists, sculptors and engineers.

“There are inevitable difficulties in exporting an exhibition and building a building abroad – particularly in a regulation-intensive country like Japan,” said Finlay.

“If you take a team of opinionated artists and creatives, and a squad of interpreters and translators doing their best to make two cultures understand each other, and add to this the intrinsic difficulty of exporting an exhibition and building abroad in a regulation-intensive country, you have a recipe for many confusing, challenging and stimulating hours,” said Finlay.

NZ Pavilion at Aichi Expo, 2005

About the pavilion

The outside of the pavilion advertises the exhibition’s theme, “new sea land people”, which is picked up again as visitors enter pavilion. Dominating the ellipse-shaped interior is a large sculptural cloud made of backlit Dacron. From it emerges a rain fountain, which falls onto a large, touchable pounamu boulder, one of the highlights of the exhibition for many of the Japanese visitors.

On one wall of the ellipse is a very wide screen, on which is projected a looped video – a swooping 6 minute flyover of New Zealand, seen from the point of view of a “spirit-bird”. On the way out of the pavilion, visitors can enter a smaller, circular room in which there are five big multi-user touch screens which they can interrogate to learn a little more about New Zealand.

The design brief called for two main areas with different functions – a public exhibition space, and a VIP facility. Despite the enormous visitor numbers to the public area, the VIP area may end up giving more direct benefit for New Zealand.

It offers a space for New Zealand politicians, exporters, inventors and business people to meet with their Japanese counterparts to develop links between the countries.

To do this successfully required not only a bar area and a meeting/lounge room, but also a full commercial kitchen facility able to produce silver-service dining as well as more relaxed daily offerings. These facilities have proved so popular that when available the facility is now being booked by Japanese multinationals such as Toyota.

In addition to these core requirements, the building also houses back-up facilities such as offices, storage areas, a staff relaxation area and shower/changing facilities for kapa haka performers (who perform up to 7 times a day).

The Pavilion has recently won an award in the Japan Display Design Awards held by the Japan Display Design Association.

Designing, producing content and fitting out the pavilion: who did what?

Client New Zealand Government: Commissioner-General, Phillip Gibson Lead Agency: NZTE; Project Manager, Mike Pattison Other stakeholders/contributors: Tourism NZ, Creative NZ, MFAT

Main Contractor: Design and Build and Content Story! Inc Producer/writer: James McLean Overall designer/interior designer: Dean Cato Film producer/director: Steve La Hood

Project Manager Carson Group Project Manager: Alice Taylor

Architects Warren+Mahoney Architecture Architect: Graeme Finlay

Electrical and Structural Engineers Beca (Christchurch) Engineer: Phillip Gillon

Audio Visual and Interactive Production Oktobor Ltd Producer: Martin O’Sullivan Production manager/image researcher: Roxane Gajadhar Designer: Matt Trott

Interactive Technical Design HIT Lab NZ Ltd Interactive project manager: Richard Bishop

Lighting, Audio and Technical Installation Marc Simpson Lighting Lighting design: Marc Simpson Technical installation: Neil Bryce and Michael Leger

Installation/Fabrication Ian Anderson Design, Wellington

Onsite construction Murayama Ltd Project Director: Sadamoto Chida

Pounamu Owned and lent by Maika Mason and family

Sculpture Windgrass by Kon Dimopolous


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