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September 24, 2009

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Norwegian wood takes center stage

A forest from Norway will provide a cool introduction for visitors to next year's World Expo Shanghai. Norway's pavilion will be constructed around 15 model trees made from Norway's pine wood and Chinese bamboo.

The trees, ranging from 5 meters tall to 15 meters, will be arranged to present a clear interpretation of Norway's varied landscapes of forests, fjords, mountains and coastline.

Moreover, the fantastic sight of the country's polar lights as well as a taste of its delicious salmon will be shown to pavilion visitors.

The model trees will be covered by a semi-transparent roof and when the sun shines through the roof, it will create the effect of shade or blue skies.

The roof will also be able to collect solar energy to make the entire pavilion self-sufficient.

The pavilion, with the theme of "Powered by Nature," has four sections, including Coastline, Forest, Fjord and North Pole, says Arild Blixrud, Norway's acting commissioner general for the Expo.

Touring across the pavilion, visitors will finish a journey across the landscape of northern Europe.

Two large screens will describe how Norwegians use solar, wind and wave energies in the Coastline section. People can watch four movies in the Forest section. These will introduce the natural scenery and daily lives of Norwegians, as well as outline its scientific research.

The nation's fishing industry will be introduced in the Fjord section. And in the North Pole section, visitors can learn the importance of these wastelands to global climate changes.

Then, visitors can walk onto a terrace to view the pavilion's scenery. At a Norwegian restaurant, they'll be able to try authentic salmon, reindeer and lamb meats as well as Akvavit, a flavored spirit that is produced in Scandinavia and typically contains 40 percent alcohol.

Visitors will enjoy a "powerful sensory experience," says Blixrud.

"Through this innovative design, Norway wanted to present its concepts in resource and energy conservation with the theme 'Norway Powered by Nature'," says Oyvind Slaake, Norway's vice minister of trade and industry.

Most Norwegian cities are close to the sea, forests or mountains, and Norway will show the world "how we invite nature into the city and use nature to improve the quality of life," says Philip Lote, communications director of Norway's Expo delegation.

Four of the trees have already been erected at the Expo site. Within 10 weeks, the 3,000-square-meter pavilion will take its shape.

The US$22.8 million Norway Pavilion will not be constructed from scratch, but assembled using prefabricated laminated wood building kits and bamboo which will be shipped from Norway. The wood comes from the center of pine trunks, which is the strongest part.

Wood is widely used as a construction material in Norway while bamboo is the traditional construction material in China. The pavilion aims to present a combination of Norwegian and Chinese cultures, Lote says.

However, visitors don't need to worry about the pavilion's impact on Norwegian forests. The Expo team has planted another two trees for each tree used in building the pavilion, says Blixrud.

Designers got the idea for the pavilion while walking through a forest in Norway, says Siv Helen Stangeland, one of the chief designers.

And the stability of the pavilion will not be a concern as Blixrud says it will be able to withstand even the most powerful typhoon.

Images of the spectacular northern lights, which brighten the winter night sky in Norway, will be projected onto the facade of the pavilion at night.

Another highlight will be the Norwegian government's post-Expo plan for the "trees pavilion."

"The government hopes to leave the 15 trees in China after Expo as a symbol of friendly relations between the two countries," Blixrud says.

They will be split into single trees and moved to different areas of China and used as restaurants or conference halls or located in local parks for people to enjoy.


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