Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion – Building Design

Shanghai Expo 2010 Building, Pavilion, Image, Architect, Design, Winner, News

Shanghai Expo UK Building

British Architecture in China – design by Heatherwick Studio

6 Jul 2009

Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion

Links to Selected Expo Buildings lower down this page

HEATHERWICK’S PAVILION TO SPEARHEAD UK CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AT SHANGHAI EXPO 2010

* Expo : key opportunity to enhance UK-China partnership through Arts, Education, Culture, Business, Science and Climate Change

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office today reveals updated designs for the UK pavilion that will represent this country at Shanghai Expo 2010; its theme being ‘Better City, Better Life’. Developed by one of the UK’s leading creative talents – Thomas Heatherwick – the UK pavilion will provide a dramatic demonstration of creativity and innovation in the UK.

British Pavilion Shanghai Expo 2010 British Pavilion Shanghai Expo British Pavilion Shanghai

The centrepiece of the UK’s offering is the extraordinary pavilion building – a six storey high object formed from some 60,000 slender transparent rods, which will extend from the structure and quiver in the breeze. During the day, each of these 7.5m long rods will act like fibre optic filaments, drawing on daylight to illuminate the interior, thereby creating a contemplative awe-inspiring space. At night, light sources at the interior end of each rod will allow the whole structure to glow. The pavilion will sit on a landscape looking like paper that once wrapped the building and that now lies unfolded on the site. The landscape provides an open space for public events and shelter for visitors making their way into the pavilion structure.

Inside the pavilion building is a unique visual representation of the UK’s leading role in conservation worldwide – Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership – the largest collection of wild plant seeds in the world. By encasing tens of thousands of seeds into the ends of the transparent rods, visitors will be able to view examples of seeds of plant species that contribute to national and global conservation programmes. The seeds have been sourced from the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, Kunming Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences in China – a partner in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project. The seeds being used are taken from stocks that are both plentiful and readily available. They will create a stunning image of an alternative World Bank, into which is embedded the potential of life.

Visitors will access the ‘Seed Cathedral’ by a series of walkways, the content of which will depict the role of nature in UK cities in the past, present and in the future.

This design is already coming to life. Construction was formally started in March on China’s annual national tree planting day; the UK being one of the first self-build countries to start work on site. Heatherwick Studio is acting in partnership with Mace, the consultancy and construction company, to build the structure.

British Pavilion Shanghai Expo British Pavilion Shanghai

Thomas Heatherwick, articulating his vision for the pavilion, said: “The Expo in Shanghai will be an amazing event; around two hundred countries competing for the attention of seventy million visitors. Our task is to make the UK pavilion stand out. We decided to do this by making one extraordinary object; not recognisable in conventional terms, set in a calm open site. Each visitor will be able to explore both in their own way. Rather than making a straightforward advert for the UK, we want our pavilion to give each person a more profound understanding of the richness of contemporary UK culture.”

Chris Bryant, Foreign Office Minister responsible for the UK Shanghai Expo presence, said: “Thomas Heatherwick’s pavilion structure will showcase 21st century UK as a vibrant and dynamic country full of imagination and panache. I am sure it will inspire the Chinese public to learn more about the UK and its wealth of opportunities across business, education, tourism and beyond. The Shanghai Expo is a chance to show China that the UK is a world leader in creative design; this pavilion is a big first step to achieving that.”

Ian McCartney, MP and Commissioner General for the UK Shanghai Expo, said: “We see it as a gift of friendship to the people of China – coming in the shape of a just-unwrapped package, with an intriguing structure at one corner, waiting to be explored. We want it to offer an engaging, memorable experience that inspires both the visitors and the Chinese public at large.”

Simon Featherstone, Programme Director for the UK’s presence at Shanghai Expo, added: “Through research and focus group work, we are learning what local Chinese people currently think of the UK and what their expectations are of our site at the Expo. Research in China suggests that we are one of the top 3 sites people want to see but there is a lack of awareness of the breadth and depth of creativity and leading edge design in the UK. We hope to remedy that during the Expo by showcasing UK creativity, skill and talent – Thomas’s structure is a great starting point for this.”

Paul Smith, Head of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership, added: “This is a very exciting project and we are delighted to be involved in conveying the importance of biodiversity and conservation through the inclusion of seeds in this iconic structure. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is a unique project managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which, by the end of 2009, will have collected and conserved seeds from 10% of the world’s wild plant species. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank is the largest seed bank in the world and its purpose is to enable the use of as wide a range of plant diversity as possible in order to enable human adaptation, innovation and resilience in the face of climate change and other environmental challenges.”

Alongside the Expo experience, an extensive series of events for both a business and general audience covering arts, education, science and climate change will take place over the 6 months from May to October a) at the Expo itself both in the public landscape area and the meetings facilities, b) in Shanghai and c) around other key major cities throughout China. Each event will exploit the interest and excitement generated by the Heatherwick-designed pavilion to deliver stories from the UK to develop existing bi-lateral partnerships and create new ones.
The programmes, together with the UK Expo website, are expected to reach millions of people over the Expo period – even more than the tens of thousands a day that are expected to visit the UK pavilion. Visitors throughout China and internationally will be able to make a virtual visit to the UK pavilion to access information on the UK and participate in an enormous range of activities and projects on the Expo Bureau’s own Online website.

The public sector founding sponsors, led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are the British Council, UK Trade and Investment, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the English Regional Development Agencies.

British Pavilion Shanghai 2010 – images / information from Heatherwick Studio 2009

Shanghai Expo designer – British Pavilion UK Winner : Heatherwick Studios

UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo – information from 30 Mar 2010
Shanghai Expo British Pavilion
photo © Daniele Mattioli

Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion – information re RIBA visit, 23 Mar 2010

British Pavilion Shanghai Expo : further information

Brit Insurance Design Awards : 2011 Nominee

Shanghai Expo
British Pavilion Shanghai
UK Pavilion Winner (above) announced Oct 2007: Heatherwick Studios

Shortlist announced from 47 entries in May 2007:
Avery Associates; Draw Architects; Heatherwick Studios; John McAslan + Partners; Marks Barfield Architects; Zaha Hadid Architects

British Pavilion Shanghai 2010 – Heatherwick Studio: Winner

The Pavilion of Ideas is a unique display device – an enclosure that throws out from all faces a mass of long, radiating cilia, each ending with a tiny light source. Their length means they gently sway in response to any wind movement.

These cilia, or staves, provide the Pavilion with its only means of support. It rests on its soft forest in an urban field, flanked by two ramped, embracing arms of grass, formed as ramparts under which an auditorium, exhibition space, café, shop and reception spaces are sited. The architecture eschews the need for significant concrete foundations and aims to use simple construction techniques to touch lightly on the site.

Above and peering into these spaces, the Pavilion flickers with patterns of light as it sends its messages, and those of its visitors, across the site. Each cilium terminates within the Pavilion – with another tiny light source. Inside, clustered together by the form of the structure, they create an enormous engulfing digital screen. This is how the British Pavilion’s content is expressed – outwardly as well as inwardly.

British Pavilion Shanghai 2010 – image + information from Heatherwick Studio 2007

Thomas Heatherwick


To see all listed projects on a single map please follow this link.




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Comments / photos for the Shanghai Expo UK Architecture page welcome

British Pavilion Shanghai 2010 – page

Website: Shanghai

Website: Architecture