Written by Staff Writer
(CNN) — The next International Exhibition of the Earth’s Living Landscapes is now open at Ecotone de Paris, La Defense.
Some 7,000 artists, architects, educators and other visitors are exploring the philosophy and practice of environments — particularly in relation to the environment and water.
Paris was chosen to host the 2020 Expo as a response to public opinion in the wake of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the devastating floods that followed two years later. The city was chosen over Montreal, which recently turned down the offer.
Paris’ own experience of flooding is a useful experience to draw on; five of the 12 most deadly floods in Europe were recorded in the French capital.
On the flip side, the lesson of the Great Flood of 1910, which destroyed a significant proportion of the population in southeast France, was the need to adapt to climate change.
“What I want is not to develop a model but to show how objects and cultures can react to the impact of climate change,” says Dr. Jean Bernard Delix, director of the Expo 2020 site.
The permanent exhibition covers 1,600 square meters, but long-term operations are planned to cut the show to 330 square meters per year.
Keeping waters coming
Another pavilion set up to explore climate change uses its temporary space to experiment with managing water.
The team behind Irrigation Dona, and technical collaborator Live the Future, wanted to create an experience on a scale nobody had attempted before.
The project, which is being delivered by the Paris World Water Museum, is taking place in a new 8,000 square meter natural-friendly and indigenous-friendly building. The space above street level is devoted to learning.
In the basement, engineers can monitor moisture in soils using ultraviolet-light sensors. An innovative artificial irrigation system allows for customizable water watering on demand. This supports nearby farms.
Using a hand-dug well, water can be pumped out and put back into the aquifer to fulfill the needs of the grower, or transported away to cool houses and sewage treatment centers.
Water recycling is part of the growing Parisian zeitgeist. Though there’s still work to be done, pipes starting from the grass in front of the new Canal Seine-Meme, the huge bulkhead crossing the basin, meet where the wastewater from city streets are taken in, so water can be treated and reused.
Illuminating the exhibition
Artists had to focus on zero carbon energy, as well as learning to live with the elements and seasonal changes.
Artists were asked to design an installation to engage the visitors about the state of the planet. The result: The Indicator of Hanging Life, a giant depiction of the different phases of the moon.
Illuminating the walls of the pavilion are the sculptures of Ocean Marsh, a three-legged human being made from electronic hardware. It was intended to remind visitors of the precarious status of the ocean’s biodiversity.
The pavilion also has a main entrance lined by the example of a tree, an example of an historic European practice that’s now threatened by the warming climate.