James Ogul interviews with Commissioner General Jiri Potuznik and Executive Producer Matteo Pederzoli – Exclusive to InPark
Dubai was elected in 2013 by the 170 member states of the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) to host a World Expo in 2020. World Expos are six-month events that take place every five years, and the participating countries design and build their own unique pavilions. The last World Expo was held in Milan in 2015. Thus far 150 nations have signed up to participate at Dubai. Expo 2020 Dubai will run from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021. The theme is “Connecting Minds, Creating the future.”
InPark expo specialist James Ogul has been exploring the Dubai 2020 pavilion plans of various participating nations. He recently interviewed Czech Pavilion Commissioner General Jiri Potuznik, and Executive Producer Matteo Pederzoli, about Czech Republic participation in the event.
Interview with Jiří F. Potužník, Commissioner General, Czech Republic participation at EXPO 2020 Dubai
The Czech Republic thinks of its participation at the Expo as an opportunity to show the world its scientific, industry and cultural potential. That is, in fact, the original point of World Exhibitions – and the Czech Republic has received many prestigious awards at past Expos, including, at Expo Milano 2015, a BIE Award bronze medal for “Architecture and Landscape.”
The Czech Academy of Sciences, as well as leading universities and private innovative companies, capable of excelling against global competition, are involved in creating both our national pavilion and exhibition at Dubai 2020.
How is your participation financed?
The national pavilion and the exhibition of the Czech Republic are a joint investment project – a public-private partnership. The state pays the rent for the pavilion, and the structure remains the property of its constructor who is free to sell it after the Expo. The office of the Commissioner General pays for the development and the creation of the iconic “Made in Czech” Solar Air Water Earth Resource (S.A.W.E.R.) system – which uses solar energy to collect water from the air – and private companies invest in the artistic and technological exhibits, portions of which will change every two weeks. These exhibits will be based on topics aligned with the “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” Expo 2020 overall theme. Among others, they will include the hundredth birthday of the word ROBOT, which was thought of and brought into the world by Czech writers Josef and Karel Čapek.
What do you estimate will be the total cost be for the Czech Republic’s participation at Dubai and how much time does it take to design and construct a pavilion for an expo such as Dubai?
The entire budget will be more than 300 million crowns, which is about 15 million U.S. dollars. A third of the cost will be for the construction of the pavilion, a third will be for the installation of the interior exposition and a third will be left for the operation of the pavilion and supporting programs such as the National Day, which is planned for the 21st of March, echoing our “Czech Spring” pavilion theme.
What are your goals for participation in Expo 2020 Dubai?
We want to contribute to the topic of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.” For centuries, the Czech Republic has been a source of discoveries and innovations, that have helped improve the entire world – from the discovery of blood groups and the invention of the contact lens, all the way to nanotechnology. At Expo 2020 in Dubai, we will present new Czech patents that will, yet again, serve the entire world and the system that creates water out of thin air will be one of them ̶ prepare to be surprised…
Interview with Matteo Pederzoli, Executive Producer, “Czech Spring” National Pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai
We practiced what the Expo 2020 Dubai’s main “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” theme preaches from day one, by blending business expertise with academic resourcefulness into the process. Our designers are Ph.D. students of Architecture from The Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU). They have teamed up with a construction partner that has got solid Expo credentials.
Can you describe for our readers what the experience of visiting the Czech Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will be like?
Located in Expo 2020’s Sustainability Themed District, the pavilion is based on the theme of “Czech Spring,” and intended to awaken feelings of the most popular season in Czech Republic – spring – a time when the country is in full bloom. It also symbolizes the renowned Czech water springs, highlighting the growing scarcity of clean (spring) water.
Visitors will learn about and be able to interact with cutting edge technology that could turn desert sand into fertile land via a demonstration of the innovative S.A.W.E.R. (Solar Air Water Earth Resource) system, which uses solar energy to collect water from air, using a photo bioreactor and compost tea. Scientists have successfully used this water to produce an algae that helps grass, herbs and crops grow in desert sand. The Czech scientists aim to use the technology to grow olive and palm trees in the UAE desert during the Expo. Given the agricultural challenges in the UAE and the region, this could be a real benefit beyond 2020.
Featuring a series of fluid lines that flow around rectangular exhibition spaces, the eye-catching pavilion building will also feature a Czech restaurant, a colossal installation of designer glass (think of the Dubai Opera House – Czech glass galore), and a rotating exhibition to help attract repeat visitors.