I realize that Expo 2010 (Shanghai World’s Fair) is getting a bit long in the tooth, but … I’d like to share with my Expo readers an interesting note that I received from someone involved in the design of an Expo 2010 pavilion. The topic is Expo lines (or queues, my British friends), and who should be blamed for the fact that visitors are waiting as many as eight hours to enter some of the most popular pavilions. Generally, it seems, the lines are treated as the inevitable consequence of China’s large population. And, in the Chinese media and blogsphere, at least, lines/queues are sited as stamps of quality: ie, the only reason people spend eight hours outside of the Saudi pavilion is that it’s so terrific inside (believe me, it’s not).
And this perverse state of affairs (queues = quality) has led to accusations from some pavilions (Turkey, most notably) that other pavilions (Saudi, most notably), actually manipulate their traffic so that they can enjoy the prestige of lone lines. The email below responds to that suggestion. I’ve edited out any information that could identify this person (and also some of his language – Shanghai Scrap is, ahem, a family blog). Beyond that, this is the unexpurgated opinion of someone who knows what he’s talking about:
The longer queues are being sited as a sign of quality by a lot of the Chinese media – it’s crazy and (as a designer) f****** insulting.
Take Australia – 50,000 per day, longest wait at peak is around an hour . Why? It was was designed to deliver the best experience to the most guests.
I visited a lot of pavilions recently and I’m not sure that they set out to deliberately manipulate the queues, I think that they are just sh**** design (from a audience flow point of view).
Take Britain – If I waited 5 f****** hours to get into there I would kill someone. The solution to the queue is straight forward – why doesn’t it pass under and through the seed room as a straight line? The experience would be the same and would accommodate Turkey style numbers!
[Below, the seed cathedral, and its one entrance/exit, ie the “road block”]
Don’t get me started on Germany, 6 hours? You have to be kidding…
The fact that these pavilions are rewarded for crappy, thoughtless design (architects only care about their building statement not the audience) by the Chinese media is astounding to me. Long queues do not equal a great pavilion that is worth the wait (OIL – I’m talking to you guys!). It signals a participant that has not taken the Chinese audience seriously and is treating them with little respect. “Build it and they will wait” basically equals a great big bucket of f*** you to the Expo guests conned into wasting the day.