USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

The People Pavilion

I realized that the world expo was about more than just visiting pavilions when I decided to buy a cone of Turkish ice cream on our first day at the venue.

The character serving ice cream was a very animated individual, effortlessly earning the attention of curious bystanders. In fact, the crowd gathered around his booth was so large that in order to even see him you had to find a gap from which to peek. Having made my way to the end of the line, I noticed that the people gathered there were not in fact buying ice cream from this man. Instead, they were excitedly huddled around him and his customers as if waiting for something to happen.

Eh, whatever. I handed the woman standing next to him the twenty renminbi for my cone.

He scooped a generous blob of the sweet treat onto a crunchy cone and handed it to me.

Well, kind of…

Walking away from the booth with cone in hand, I knew I would never forget this ice cream cone and felt the need to share this experience with the rest of the group. After meeting up with everyone else, I told them how great the ice cream was and encouraged them to get a cone for themselves.

Luckily for me, Mr. Liang was down for some dessert. So, I led the group back to the ice cream booth and signaled to the Turkish server that Andrew would like to buy a cone. He winked at me, and this is what followed:

upload in progress… link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4dhLvIyTpU

Looking back at the expo, it seems that the pavilions that were constructed served merely as containers for the most important exhibit: people. The people pavilion, most commonly identified as the obstacle to overcome in an attempt to reach the other pavilions, was by far the largest and most impacting.

Everywhere you looked, there were people.

People taking pictures.

…waiting in line.

…eating in small groups.

…eating in large groups.

…watching shows.

…watching people.

…watching people watching people.

…watching people watching people watching people.

Being the pavilion you experience as you attempt to reach the other attractions, it’s hard to imagine going through the expo without it. Moving through the undeniable “mass” of people filling the space between the pavilions, sometimes very dense and sometimes sparse, felt like moving through a bowl of Jell-O: carving out a path that closes up behind you as soon as you pass through, as if you hadn’t been there at all.

At the other extreme, there were those people pavilions composed of single individuals, much like the one in which Andrew plays protagonist. More than a few of the members of our group were often pulled aside from the group in order to be photographed, almost like celebrities. The more entertaining aspect of these moments is that once a person mustered up the courage to take the first photo, a mob of onlookers felt the need to pose with the same person, not wanting to be left behind.

The whole event in itself became a spectacle for the rest of us standing nearby. Even more so after realizing someone was looking at us, looking at them, looking at us, looking at…

You get the picture.

– alfredo

Filed under: pavilion, people, Shanghai, Uncategorized, World Expo


The views and opinions contained in this blog are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent the views and opinions of the University of Southern California or any of its officers or trustees.



AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu