The first thing that struck the visitor to the Thai Pavilion was its powerfully symbolic architecture. This not only reflected the theme of the country’s participation – “Feed and delight the world in a sustainable way” – but also portrayed a nation which is predominantly rural and agricultural, deeply in tune with nature and its resources, above all with water and soil. The basic concept expressed by the building was the Thai Spirit, which embraced water, agriculture and lifestyle… three elements strongly communicated by the Pavilion’s architecture.
Thailand, a country of abundance
The visit began in the open air, offering visitors an image reflecting Thailand’s lifestyle. “The Floating Market”, built for the occasion, clearly transmitted the close bond between Thailand’s citizens and water, displaying a fascinating means of transport, typical of the country’s canal commerce. Water is also fundamental to agriculture – another dimension which strongly characterizes this people – and in particular to rice, which is the nation’s basic food and represents tradition, culture and the sense of rural community. A rice field divided into three zones allowed visitors to understand the different phases of the cultivation process but also to see the plants growing. The expanse of water beside the Pavilion contained fish, and the field contained rice: this metaphor was intended to reflect Thailand’s abundance of natural resources.
“Naga”, the royal serpent
Next to the ramp which led inside the Pavilion, the heads of five protective spirits greeted visitors: five “Nagas”, the royal serpent which symbolizes water and fertility by connecting rivers with fields and their wealth of products, and which plays an important role in Thailand’s culture, religion and way of life.
“Resources in the earth, riches in the water”: the Ngob Golden Land
The main hall had the shape of a “Ngob”, the traditional hat worn by rice workers in the paddy fields, emblem of rural life and food production. Inside, a 360-degree video-projection – with the title “Resources in the Earth, Riches in the Water” – portrayed the wealth of agricultural and fishery produce which constitutes the basic food supply of the population.
The Kitchen of the World inside a Pagoda
The visit continued inside a classic element of traditional Thai architecture, namely the base of a pagoda, where Thailand was symbolically presented as “the Kitchen of the World”, again using a giant video projection, this time to describe the ingredients, the culinary techniques, the high nutritional value of certain foods and the process of food production. Rice is present in most of the country’s dishes, and Thailand is one of the world’s biggest rice exporters… but it also exports numerous other foods and food ingredients, which is why it makes an effective symbol to express the Kitchen of the World concept. This degree of agricultural success is in large part the result of a series of modifications to crop-growing techniques brought about by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, known as the “Agricultural King”, who contributed enormously to the implementation of various projects for quality sustainable agriculture sponsored by the Royal Family.
Food for the future
The final exhibition space bore the title “Food for the Future”, and allowed visitors to taste various dishes or alternatively to download the recipes and cook them at home.