The 2015 Milan Expo required the input of more than 145 countries and 50 international organizations resulting in over 70 temporary pavilions; a combined effort totaling more than €13 billion. Norman Foster’s rippling pavilion for the United Arab Emirates ended up at €60 million. The massive slab of concrete, laid out over the previously green agricultural land to act as the Expo’s foundation cost a whopping €224 million. Even Vietnam’s “low cost” pavilion came in at $2.09 million.
Compare that with, for example, IKEA’s proposal for a temporary refugee shelter that can house 5, costing just $1000, and one can see the absurdity of spending gargantuan sums on buildings that will perhaps be sold to be used later as a clubhouse, or to a museum as another temporary cultural center. Where is the architectural action behind an architectural event that boasts “Energy for Life” or “Better City, Better Life” - the slogan of the Shanghai 2010 Expo - yet spends extraordinary amounts of resources on structures that provide little sustainable development to parts of the world that are actually in dire need of it?