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The Spanish Pavilion

2009. 10 July

By Anna Roma Jubany

( The Spanish Pavilion led by the design team Catalan EMBT Miralles-Tagliabue will be one of the biggest pavilions during next year’s World Expo. The space spanning 7,000 square meters will be categorized under the theme called “Habitable Constructions.” The design was inspired by wicker baskets, a handicraft deeply rooted in both Spain and China. The frontage of the pavilion will be covered by wicker while the rest of the building will be made from sustainable materials like bamboo and semi-transparent paper laid out on an intricate panel system.

The Spanish cities Madrid, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Zaragoza and Barcelona will be featured in the pavilion. When it began construction last May, Carlos Blasco, the Ambassador of Spain in China said: “Our objective is to let visitors know that Spain is a country where tradition and modernity coexist in all senses.” Madrid City is one of the 15 recipients worldwide of the award, “Area of Best Urban Practices,” q distinction relevant to the Shanghai Expo’s “Better City, Better life” theme and one of the reasons that Madrid was given the opportunity to present their own pavilion.

The US$25 million pavilion project was awarded to Catalan EMBT Miralles-Tagliabue; its proposal besting 18 other top international Spanish architecture firms. Lead architect Benedetta Tagliabue tried to avoid the traditional box concept for pavilions by leaving large patios that will enable a better and free-flowing movement of the visitors.

Inside the pavilion, the exhibition will cover three main content units: “From nature to city,”“From our parents’ city to our current one,” and “From the current city to the future one.”

Due to the global financial crisis, Spain reduced its budget for the World Expo. However, the country is still carrying out an intensive program of thematic activities, including pictures expositions and flamenco concerts among many others. Spain entrusted the pavilion’s exhibition project to three movie directors: Bigas Luna, Basilio Martín Patino and Isabel Coixet. The presentation of the contents remains strictly confidential and they are not going to reveal the details until the end of the year.

On the other hand, the pavilion will have its east wing divided into three floors where the visitor will be able to access several public services such as a tapas bar that can hold up to 300 people and where cuisine based on the best Spanish products will be offered.

There will also be a shop, an auditorium with a 200 people capacity and a business center which to take advantage of the Expo functioning as a meeting place to increase and boost the Spanish business presence in China.

In this sense, the pavilion will provide a business dimension for the first time. The Club de Amigos del Pabellón (Pavilion Friends Club) that will act as a business center for Spanish companies in China through several events such as business meetings, seminars, tastings, to name a few. Apart from the club, Spanish companies can participate and become part of the pavilion and the exhibition through three ways: become a pavilion partner; become a pavilion collaborator; or become an official supplier of the pavilion. Depending on the package they choose, Spanish companies will enjoy different rights to exhibit inside the pavilion in terms of exclusivity, publicity and hospitality.

Spanish and Chinese relations go beyond of the expo. Both countries frequently maintain high-level meetings and their political dialogue keeps improving. Proof of that, is the fact that both countries announced the establishment of a strategic association in 2005 that settled the basis for an expansion in their relations.

Both countries have also successfully organized four China-Spain forums that have become a platform for the bilateral exchange and cooperation between the countries not only in a commercial way, but also in the educational field.

In 2007, China and Spain signed an agreement to mutually recognize academic grades. From then on, student exchange between the two countries has increased significantly. In relation to tourism, of the 60 million tourists that visited Spain in 2008, only 50, 000 of them were Chinese visitors. Hence, Spain is hoping that exposure at the Expo will increase Chinese visits to the country.

On a business level, trade between the two countries has increased in recent years. It increased from US$7.2 million in 2004 to US$22.7 million as of October 2008. Nowadays, China is the sixth most important trade partner of Spain more so for the fields of telecommunications, finances and renewable energy. Spanish’s exports to China increased by 20 percent in 2007 to EUR2.065 million from the previous year’s EUR1.722 million.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently said that Spain “is the most trusting and the safest allied of China within Europe. “ In addition, among the three design firms chosen for the Expo’s thematic pavilions, one is a Spanish one – INGENIAqed – to design the “Future Pavilion” covering an area of more than 14.000 square meters.

On the other hand, the leading Spanish company in technology and production of metallic silicon, FerroAtlántica, will establish its new factory in mainland China amounting to one of Spain’s biggest investment in the country at US$1.066 million. The factory will create a total of 5.600 jobs and should boost for the economic zone in Sichuan Province. The company also signed an agreement to build a 144 km expressway to link Chengdu with the river ports of the Yangtzé River Delta.

The details of the Spanish companies participating in the pavilion have not been finalized yet. However, the Economic and Commercial Office of Spain (Oficina Económica y Comercial de España) in Shanghai is currently holding conferences and seminars in both China and Spain, to promote the opportunities for Spanish companies to participate in the event. Companies interested participating in the Spanish Pavilion activities can contact

As the economic and political clout of China increases globally, Spain will need to nurture its relationship with it to be able to take advantage of the mutual opportunities it affords. Therefore, the Shanghai World Expo 2010 is a key stone for Spain. It will express the beginning a new era in the relations between the two.