After presenting itself for the first time as an independent country at the Lisbon World Exhibition in 1998, the Republic of Croatia repeated its success as one of the best pavilions at the Hanover World Exhibition in 2000.
The Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main coordinator of the project, selected the project of a group of authors - Damir Fabijanic, Dalibor Martinis and Studio 3LHD.
The authors’ answer to the main theme of the World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan – Nature’s Wisdom - was enriched with a symbolic theme: “A Drop of Water: a Grain of Salt.”
The concept of Croatia’s presentation at World EXPO 2005 in Aichi, Japan is based on the idea, the plan layout and the metaphor of salt pans. This concept culturally upgrades the initial, general theme "A drop of water" into "A drop of water: a grain of salt" due to the recognizable particularity of the Croatian landscape and history - the salt pans. Salt is the integral part of every drop of sea water, but it is also its opposite - it is obtained through hard labour. This theme unites philosophical and spiritual imagination with reality. The Pavilion was conceived rather like event architecture than conventional architecture since it is based on visual and sensual experience. We have created the space in Japan along these lines and it is a combination of a live and mediated event. There are three rooms and five themes of the event. We think that in the future a lot of primarily public architecture will be designed in this way.

The pavilion has the plane of 18m×27m {1.5 modules}, and the exhibition consists of three rooms. Twisting white belt made of the membrane material is horizontally put on the façade in ten pieces along with ultramarine glass put under the canopy create facade. The entrance room is experience of immerging into the sea and visitors are introduced to the basic element of salt and water. In the main room visitors start a journey that reacts to the movements of people, generating waves below the sea surface. As if immersed in the sea water, at the end of the room the visitors find themselves on an elevator where the journey above the surface of the sea starts. In this second level the atmosphere changes completely, as a strong light simulating a work day at the salt pans is turned on. The salt spread on the first floor, once symbolizing the salt pans, is now turned into a big screen where a projection of a movie, filmed in the bird’s eye perspective, familiarizes the visitor with landscapes, customs and people of Croatia. In the exit room/shop, after having experienced a feeling of a long journey on a hot summer day, the visitor can taste the fresh Croatian spring water and finally reach by hand the hard work of the salt pan workers — the salt itself.

On 25 March 2005 the Pavilion opened to the public, six months later the doors were closed and the Pavilion was torn down. Almost one million visitors participated in this 15minute adventure. The site of the EXPO 2005 Japan is now the same as it had been before the exhibition – pristine nature.




Damir Fabijanic