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Much ado about Bamboo

Deng Zhangyu
Updated: Dec 3,2015 7:43 AM     China Daily

China’s pavilion at the Milan Expo, featuring a floating bamboo roof, wins an eco-friendly award from the expo’s organizers. [Photo provided to China Daily]

For the past six months, Lyu Zhidao says he has worked 20 hours a day, devoting himself to one project-China’s Milan Expo pavilion.

The modern structure with a wavy roof made up of hundreds of bamboo panels attracted about 1 million visitors in October alone, the last month it was open to the public, in Italy.

Lyu, who led his team in building and running the pavilion, is now busy recycling it and helping rebuild a similar structure in Qingdao in East China’s Shandong province.

The structure of the pavilion earned it an eco-friendly and energy-saving award from the Milan Expo organizers.

Lyu Zhidao leads his team to help rebuild the Milan Expo pavilion in Qingdao. [Photo provided to China Daily]

More than half of the material used in making the pavilion can be reused, says Lyu, president of Unique Culture and Creativity Industry Group, a Beijing-based private company that provides construction services to the cultural industry.

The company also collaborates with foreign businesses.

The 43-year-old is proud of his “once-in-a-lifetime” project, he says.

The Chinese pavilion in Milan had a colored indoor “sea of wheat” made of more than 20,000 LED bulbs. The pavilion was put together by a team of Chinese, Italian and German workers.

The whole pavilion took the team about seven months to finish, much less time than Lyu had expected.

“For me, it’s a career landmark,” says Lyu.

Many visitors, especially residents of Milan, understand more about today’s China after visiting the pavilion, he says. It doesn’t use traditional Chinese images like ancient houses and red lanterns. Instead, it uses bamboo, a common plant in southern China, to present a modern image of the nation.

At the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Lyu’s company built 10 national and theme pavilions.

With his successful management of the Chinese pavilion at the Milan Expo, he has been invited to build pavilions at the 2017 Kazakhstan Expo and 2020 Dubai Expo.

Apart from building expo pavilions, Lyu is also constructing museums in China.

The country in the last 10 years has seen a surge in museums being built even in smaller cities.

He is involved with museums dedicated to pearls, umbrellas, traditional Chinese liquor and even one that’s dedicated to prisons, he says, adding that the country needs better planned construction of buildings in the cultural sector.

Also, building theme parks will be the new wave in China in the coming decade, Lyu says.

“I hope I will have more chances to build museums and theme parks outside China.”

Lyu is a native of southern China’s Guangdong province, a place that has produced many successful exporters, importers and property developers.

“I think I’m more like an artist, or I pretend to be,” he jokes at his office in Beijing, where rosewood furniture, sculptures and modern paintings are displayed.

He has helped many artists exhibit their works in and outside China, such as gunpowder artist Cai Guoqiang and painter Xu Jiang.

Lyu says he loves to work with artists although they’re always demanding and keep changing their ideas, which results in extra work. But he is always patient with them.

“I think I’m doing what I always want to do,” says Lyu.