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September 17, 2009

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Tribal welcome for Venezuela's visitors

HAVE you heard of the Mobius strip? You can create one by giving a strip of paper a half-twist and then taping the ends together. If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having walked on both sides of the strip without ever crossing an edge.

Now imagine sewing two Mobius strips together. You will have created what's known as a Klein bottle, whose inside is its outside on the same principal as the Mobius strip.

These two interesting geometric models have inspired the Venezuela Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo.

The structure demonstrates that human society should be without hierarchy. Everyone is equal and all kinds of cultures should connect with each other, says Facundo Teran, its chief architect.

"Such spaces represent the acknowledgement of the different ways to live in our geography," he says.

Structured in the form of an "8" - a symbolic number both in China and Venezuela, with the eight stars of Bolivar recently incorporated into the Venezuelan flag - the pavilion depicts many traditional aspects of the country's history and culture.

It also acknowledges the legacy of the country's indigenous people, reproducing the style of a number of ethnic residences, such as the Shapono Yanomami (forest villages) or the Churuata Yekuana (the traditional homes of the Yekuana tribe).

It also reflects the lifestyle of the country's contemporary rural communities, celebrating their coexistence with the natural world.

Nor has it ignored the life experience of the country's growing number of urban dwellers, opting to represent them through the most emblematic public space in any Venezuelan city - the Plaza Bolivar.

The pavilion seeks to offer visitors an insight into the disparate lifestyles of the people of Venezuela. Underpinning this is a belief that its citizens are united by a common belief in the need for solidarity, peaceful coexistence, balance and respect for the environment.

The architect unveiled the pavilion design last Friday and it is even more fantastic inside than the complicated outside structure.

A highlight of the pavilion will be the welcome given to visitors by South American Indians.

The Yanomami, a tribe that has thrived in the rainforests of South America for thousands of years, will also perform in the pavilion, says Teran.

Yanomami people have dark skin, are about 1.5 meters tall and wear few clothes. They make a living by planting and hunting. Anything that is grown or caught is shared by the whole tribe.

The tribe has unique witchcraft rituals.

They also regularly hold gatherings and celebrations with other tribes. These special activities may be performed in the pavilion at the 2010 event.

The pavilion is a four-story structure with a balcony on the roof.

The main entrance is a green area. A walkway will lead visitors to a grand square where a statue of a horse rider, Simon Bolivar, stands to commemorate the liberator of Latin America.

Next is the auditorium with a roof-like structure that replicates a traditional Churuata, the Yekuana ethnic group community house, whose roof symbolizes the vault of heaven and a large post in the center represents the axis of the world or the tree of life.

Visitors will have access to the grand balcony which will allow them to appreciate the inside structure of the pavilion from the highest point.

Hydroponics can be seen throughout the roof area, highlighting the country's rural characteristics and providing the pavilion with the freshness of nature.

An exhibition area will feature two-way audiovisual transmissions via satellite between Shanghai and Venezuela.

A live program of Venezuelan events will be broadcast.

Venezuelans will also be able to see what's happening in the Expo pavilion from large screens installed around their country.

A children's orchestra will perform regularly in the pavilion's 286-seat theater. The Klein Bottle Highlight: South American Indians will welcome visitors to the pavilion.Theme: A Better Life, A Better City What to see?

The structure of the pavilion has been inspired by two complicated geometric designs.

Ethnic community houses, such as the traditional Yanomami huts, or shaponos, which are used to worship their ancestors, will be built in the pavilion.

A grand square where a statue of a horse rider, Simon Bolivar, stands to commemorate the liberator of Latin America.

Want to have fun?

The exhibition area will feature two-way audiovisual transmissions via satellite between Shanghai and Venezuela.

A children's orchestra will perform regularly in a 286-seat theater in the pavilion.


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