The Ukrainian government has nominated its maritime capital Odesa to host the proposed World Expo 2030 project. This ambitious plan was presented at the Ukraine Press Center in Odesa, on Oct 31. An organizing committee headed by the economy minister Yuliya Svyrydenko has been formed.
According to the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) which will decide the competition between four candidate cities to host the event, “Expos bring the world together in a grand and common project to find solutions to a fundamental challenge facing humanity” addressed by a theme.
During the press conference, London-based Zaha Hadid Architects studio illustrated key elements of the construction of the exhibition area, which was designed in collaboration with the Odesan architectural studio JKLab.
“World Expo 2030 in Odesa? What nonsense! It’s unreal! This was our first reaction to the news that Odesa was going to participate in the competition to host Expo 2030. But our point of view on this completely changed after a few months,” said Janna Kisileva, the founder of JKLab.
“For the first time, we learned that there are crazy dreamers – enthusiasts of holding World Expo 2030 in Odesa at the end of 2021 – when information appeared on social networks that several Odesa businessmen came up with this idea and initiative,” she added.
In January 2022, the chief financial officer of JKLab, Oleg Favelyukis, was invited to an business dinner to listen to well-known local banker Vadim Morokhovsky, who is a private sponsor of the project. Morokhovsky spoke about Expo 2030 to the Odesa business community and convinced the majority of attendees that Odesa could not only compete on an equal basis with other contenders for hosting, but had a very real chance of winning this competition.
At that time, the Odesa’s competitors were Busan (Korea), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Rome (Italy) and Moscow (Russia). Due to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 2022, Moscow dropped out of the candidacy.
The location of the expo is planned for the so-called fields of irrigation (Polya Oroshenya), a empty area of Odesa between Peresyp district and Khadzhibey estuary quite close to the city center. JKLab believes the development of this area is very important and strategic for Odesa.
After the January evening dedicated to Expo 2030, JKLab believed in the feasibility of holding World Expo 2030 in Odesa and Favelyukis informed the organizers of his studio’s desire to contribute to the process.
At the same time, the organizing committee of Odesa Expo 2022 was in discussion with Zaha Hadid Architects to develop an architectural project for Odesa Expo 2022.
The outbreak of the war in Ukraine prompted the organizing committee to put Zaha Hadid Architects on hold in the development of the dossier being prepared by the Odesa Expo 2030 working team. In April, Zaha Hadid Architects again contacted the committee and made a generous offer that Odesa could not refuse.
However, it soon became clear that a local studio in Odesa was needed for detailed elaboration and visualization. Finally, the committee chose JK Lab Architects as the Ukrainian partner.
The task included a detailed study of the concept created by Zaha Hadid Architects to be submitted to the BIE in Paris, on September 2022.
“The most important thing for JKLab in the collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects was the reciprocal understanding in order to achieve a truly significant and ambitious goal. It was an opportunity to gain experience working with a world-class studio and we saw firsthand how the processes inside the famous studio are built. The experience of exchanging information during the design work and the ability to quickly correct the plan was really useful for JKLab. It was truly a living and fluid process,” concluded Kisileva
The initial stage has been completed. The final choice of host city will be made on November 2023 in Paris, when 170 countries will vote on the four proposals. Ukraine needs to convince 85 countries to vote for Odesa.
Two topics make this project important for Odesa and Ukraine: the urban design of the city and the international image of Ukraine.
From the point of view of urban design, the project will allow Odesa to give value to disadvantaged areas of the city and promote them through investments in transportation and new infrastructure. The city will acquire new useful areas with already developed services to be used for further growth.
For the international image of Ukraine, the project will raise both Ukraine and Odesa in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of the Ukrainians themselves to a new level. Ukraine will be seen not only as a country fighting a war, but also a state which recovered and organized an ambitious project of development for the future.
If Odesa is chosen as the venue for World Expo 2030, it will attract a stream of investments in hotels, restaurants and other strategic facilities, such as railways, flight connections and urban transport. Moreover, everything built in Odesa will remain in the city after the end of the EXPO giving further impetus to the development of the city. Anything built in the seven years will remain for residents, economic activities and public events.
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