The design for the Belgian pavilion at the Osaka World Expo 2025 was unveiled this morning in the presence of the Japanese ambassador, Mikami Masahiro. It is an attractive project built around the topic of water in all its states (solid, liquid and gas), a symbol of life and a key issue in building the cities of tomorrow. Managed by a young team, mainly from Charleroi, the Belgian pavilion will be participatory, putting people back at the heart of the show to better demonstrate our identity as Belgians. Several Walloon industrial sponsors have already been announced.
The consortium chosen to complete the building that will represent our country in Japan is made up of the Carré 7 architectural firm (La Louvière) for design, the Pirnay group and Poly-tech (Charleroi) for structural engineering, Make it Right Consulting, the international company Beyond Limits for the operational part of the public contract, Arter (landscape architects) and A-tech (for acoustic studies), Nihon Housing for maintenance, One Design Solutions, the Japanese general contractor and JMA Architects, also a Japanese company.
This is not Carré 7's first major project, as they also designed Charleroi's new football stadium. It will, however, be their first international project, which in no way frightens this young and dynamic team. They see it as a wonderful opportunity to represent Belgium abroad.
Water, a major issue for everyone, is the symbol chosen by Belgium to illustrate the 'Saving Lives' topic, to which it is contributing for Expo 2025. "All living things are composed of water. Water is everywhere and provides the connection and link between cells, between humans, and the Earth... It is the purest and most universal representation of life," explains architect Cyril Rousseaux. "Water is also important for Belgium and its history, thanks to the development of the river axes and the port of Antwerp, which have both helped to position Belgium right at the heart of international trade relations. Water is present in all its forms in Belgium: we have the sea, 3 major rivers, several springs and rainy weather!"
The building was therefore designed to symbolise blue gold in all its different forms. The solid state is shown in the 'icebox', a relatively closed volume covered in iridescent, light-reflecting cladding. The liquid state is distinguished by a more dynamic, rhythmic and translucent material, found on the ramp. The pavilion is also surrounded by a water mirror which visitors can walk on, enhanced by small jets of water. The last state of water is represented by the 'clouds', an inflatable structure that seems to float above the pavilion. As they leave the ramp, visitors are greeted on the roof terrace by water misters, and taken through the gas state of water. These 10 large white balls (10 for the Belgian provinces, a reference to the Atomium) will be visible from the Ring, the pedestrian walkway that runs around the Expo site.
The Belgian pavilion will also feature a 'heart', which is an allegory of life too: a luminous, plant-filled room which visitors are invited to pass through. People walk through this heart to reconnect with the essential, with nature.
"The heart also represents Belgian people, who are well known for their liveliness and warmth! It is Belgians who make up Belgium, and we wanted to express this in our building. Building the pavilion around a bright, noisy (it is open on several different levels, and includes a waterfall), lively heart is the symbol of Belgium!" explains Cyril Rousseaux with a smile on his face. "It's an advocate for life, an ode to joy. We want these spaces to come alive, buzzing like a beating heart to share Belgium's 'Belgitude', folklore, freedom and bon vivre with the whole world."
It's a meeting place and creator of social ties, which are in turn also essential for creating the conditions for a better future life. To build the cities of tomorrow, we're going to need everyone, with all their individuality and uniqueness. The designers of the Belgian pavilion have taken on board the message of our national motto, 'L'union fait la force' ('Unity makes strength').
How much does the project cost? 9.7 million euros, but the economic value is actually much greater thanks to the private sponsors who have already joined the project. Among them, we already know the names of the following Walloon companies:
- Automatic-Systems (Wavre), for the access systems
- Buzon (Herstal), for the adjustable patio blocks
- The general contractor Dherte (Namur)
- Dirty Monitor (Charleroi), to project images onto the pavilion wall
- Lexart Technics (Manage), for lighting
The project leaders are hoping to raise more than 2 million euros in sponsorship, so if you're interested, please get in touch with BelExpo. firstname.lastname@example.org