Aichi (Japan) March 25 – September 25, 2005
‘Expo 2005 emotionally communicated part of the Austrian way of life. By presenting our culture, we opened the hearts of the visitors; by showing Austrian innovations, we opened their mind.’
Dr. Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
The Austrian project and pavilion, designed by Trecolore Architects, followed the Fair’s main theme ‘Wisdom of Nature’ by playing around with all the senses.
When entering the pavilion, visitors were brought into a waltz with dancers. They could touch an icy wall at the Ice Bar. In the café, it smelled like Viennese mélange coffee and sachertorte with whipped cream. It was an experience on how Austria sounded, smell and tasted. The pavilion wanted to appeal to the people emotionally.
The concept was to playfully interpret clichés like Sacher tortes, toboggan runs and dirndls but also to work with innovative designs.
‘The Slope’ was an innovative prime example of Austrian wood construction, a central area, and a forum for activities and interaction for numerous events. It was a stage for Austrian achievements and its culture of life. But it was also an appealing invitation to visitors from the entire world to take off for Austria. The unusual plywood structure was also the scene of less common forms of movement like tobogganing.
‘Austrian Sensations’ created sensory impressions, which accompanied visitors on their way through the pavilion. The feel of Austria was experienced as a visual and olfactory voyage through various rooms. The scent of moss activated the sense of smell. The visitors passed by a waterfall and entered a meadow full of wildflowers. Slides of Austria’s most famous mountain and meadow flowers captured visitors’ attention, creating a moment of pause and reflection.
Following the official ceremony, the world-famous Vienna Boys’ Choir gave a concert for thousand of excited attendees in the Expo Dome.
The exhibition Wisdom of Nature – Eight Visions from Austria showcased the works of ten contemporary artists who displayed their interpretations of ‘Nature’s Wisdom’: Regula Dettwiller, Doris Krüger, Alois Mosbacher, Klaus Mosetting, Martin Osterider, Florian Pumhösl, Nicole Six / Paul Petrisch and Lois and Franziska Weinberger. It dealt with nature’s significance in a technoid world; it also aimed to highlight the differences in how nature is perceived in Austria and Japan.
Another important event was the symposium Wisdom of nature – Architecture and design from Austria prepared in cooperation with the renowned International Design Center Nagoya. Leading Austrian and Japanese designers, architects and scientists presented best practice examples for the responsible use of resources. Participants were Dietmar Steiner (Arkitekturzentrum Vienna), Harald Gründl (Eoos Design), Imfried Windbichler (House of Architecture, Graz), Reiner Zettl (University of Applied Arts from Vienna) and Robert Wimmer (Centre Kiyoshi Sei Takeyama).
Austria also offered an intense cultural program featuring the world premiere of an electronic music composition by Formation ohne Name, a fashion intervention by Edwina Hörl, and a monumental wall painting by Herbert Brandl. The architectural set up of the pavilion, with the Slope at its centre, was converted into history’s first “chicken catwalk”, a piece by artist by Edgar Honetschläger. The new creations could be purchased at selected design boutiques.
The 2005 World Expoin Aichi, Japan, was a resounding success for Austria. It was visited by almost 1.8 million people, including Japan’s prince Naruhito, making it one of the most heavily frequented national presentations of the Expo. Austria’s Expo presence was directed by Robert Punkenhofer on behalf of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Economics and Labor and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.
Photos: © Rainer Fehringer & © Wolfgang Thaler