With another milestone of the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2018 yet to be passed, Russia is heading towards the next major international event: EXPO 2025. Ekaterinburg, a Russian city that lies on the East of the Ural mountains is about to compete along with Osaka (Japan) and Baku (Azerbaijan) for hosting the prestigious exhibition. But what can a 2-million city located just on the border of Europe and Asia offer a toffee-nosed tourist?
Indeed, Ekaterinburg is not a mass tourist destination like, say, Dubai or Bangkok. However, this modern and dynamically growing city still keeps inherent constraints in its development. Its compact structure and accurate infrastructure has made the city a top destination for modern construction and architectural projects.
The winning of the contest for best architecture and urban planning concept for the EXPO Park in Ekaterinburg by the architectural firm Bechu & Associés known for designing the EXPO parks in Milan and Shanghai is just the perfect proof of that. A permanent host of the annual INNOPROM fair and Russia-China EXPO, Ekaterinburg offers an ultimate balance of culture and modernity, mainly due to the city’s history that goes deep back to the beginning of the 18th century from the time of the first Russian industrialists, the Demidov dynasty, who set up the iron factories and literally determined the fate of the Urals, as being the central core of Russia’s industrial might. Yet, Ekaterinburg is considered a relatively young city. Founded in 1723, it offers a mix of Russian industrial production and hi-technologies, alongside a historical element from Russia’s 18th and 19th centuries.
Perhaps, this unique mix of the past and the future, history and high technologies win over the hearts of city visitors and international guests and residents. U.S. Consul General in Ekaterinburg, Dr. Paul M. Carter said he would be glad to see Ekaterinburg the winner of the EXPO 2025 despite the official disapproval of this idea by the U.S. government. His words were echoed by French Consul General in Ekaterinburg Eric Millet.
While many in the world consider Dubai, Singapore or even Istanbul models for “out of the box” progress, Ekaterinburg stands as a shining star in the center of the Ural mountains, dividing the continents by its Europe-Asia border. It is here that the crossroads of an ambitious new world is emerging.