UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010
by Thomas Heatherwick

| 32 comments

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Shanghai Expo 2010: British designer Thomas Heatherwick has released images of his updated design for the UK pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010.

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The six-storey pavilion is pierced by 60,000 transparent rods.

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The 7.5 metre rods will act as fibre optic filaments during the day, illuminating the interior of the pavilion with natural light. At night the rods transport the light from the inside to the exterior, allowing the structure to glow.

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The surrounding faceted landscape provides space for public events and also offers shelter for visitors.

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The pavilion will house the largest collection of wild plant seeds in the world - Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership - displayed in the end of the transparent rods.

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Construction began in March on China’s annual national tree planting day.

Heatherwick was awarded the commission in September 2007, beating architects including Zaha Hadid, John McAslan and Marks Barfield. See our previous story for more details.

Here's further information from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

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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.

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.

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.”

| 32 comments

Posted on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009 at 3:42 pm by Brad Turner. See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.

  • tanya telford – T

    this looks & sounds amazing & id definitely want to see it, i wonder what the Chinese will think of it, initially puzzled, im not sure, hopefully curious and delighted, that would be really nice (and inspired in a good way), amazing project,

  • mcmlxix

    Where’s Prince Charles when you need him? I mean it looks like a…

  • ste

    like the furry thing called pavillon and would love to see the details… but wtf is so fascinating with triangulated surfaces?

  • Jam

    Nice, i thikn this man is such talented, he work so well, lol, love his style, wish he built some more things!!1!

  • ara

    3D Softwares are killing Architecture. Anyone can sit and bubble a concept now.

  • sam

    Ara, you are rigth, but also without 3D software you can find bad examples in expo shangai…. like the mexican…

  • croftdesign

    ARA, how can you be so certain the concept didn’t originate from a series of morphological hand sketches? Are you really that pessimistic towards 3d software and its ability to aid the architectural process?!
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying every designer/architect can utilize 3d software to the best of its ability. However, the digital process [whether you like it or not] is the present and the future of architecture and design.

    As for the pavilion, its interesting how it looks like a massive pollen specimen landed on a landscape. The landscape itself is underdeveloped and boring…

  • MKK

    Lacks the impact of their previous one….

    http://www.heatherwick.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20&Itemid=49

    Which I loved.

  • bibo architect

    ste, i think he did the triangulated surface to put the entrance below…

  • Matt

    This will look amazing when it is completed. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it there but I can’t wait to see some good photos of it in use Top job, and he beat zaha. Haha to zaha!

  • now_to

    Well,I like it very much.As a Chinese,I think it is a very good and inspiring design.Maybe some of the hidebound ‘seniors’ feel nothing about it,but we the new generation love good designs and read them earnestly .

  • One

    I fear that this might be very disaapointing in the reality.

  • yimyim

    Actually you cant tell much from the images, just that its their previous installation scaled and placed on a half-baked surface…lol its a bit of a joke really…

  • http://N/A Arthur Crabtree

    This sort of thing makes my blood boil! I happened across this website and read through some of the articles before stumbling across this creation by Mr Heatherwick. I genuinely don’t understand it….how do people get inside? Surely the paper landscape will not last the duration of the Expo? What will the plants look like when the seeds start to grow? In current times when our government coffers are stricken, surely money could be spent elsewhere on hospitals and schools?

    (I also read that Mr Heatherwick had (rightly) lost a scheme in my nearby Chelsea – as a long time fan of Quinlan Terry I can honestly say good!)

  • Nicola

    Nice images and with a willing suspention of disbelief I can imagine it will look suave: a biotic pavilion on a biotitic lanscape formation. Will it eat us?

  • Ian Spat

    WTF! Why is heatherwick designing the pavilion… I mean, lol, he’s not even an architect!

  • Jim01

    This thing is meant to represent the whole UK, but look at that that second image and – see what I see? One big hairy cross of St George. Typical. Looks brilliant otherwise. I hope there’s something to show the difference between the UK, Britian, The British Isles and so on inside – I’m stuck in Guangzhou and am sick of explaining that Scotland’s not part of England.

  • Mariusz

    I mean, it looks like a Sauron’s eye ;-)

  • http://x done

    i’m living in shanghai and sick of seeing what extreme amount of land are being turned over in expo site that have no use,.. there will be so much shit build here for the expo.. what about the normal people . the locals.. and moving forward their lived.. this star designer shit will definite not !

  • texxeen

    Directed at Ara : should anyone be able to sit and bubble a concept? Not just architects. Nice project btw.

  • p

    so they finally got round to thinking of a use for it…

    the idea of seeds sounds nice, but what’s the activity?

  • hedin

    Surely this building is devised to gain press for the said designer. This is not a clever or indeed beautiful structure (and is only a scaled up sitootery that he did years ago) just a designer’s design. I will not feel proud that this represents the UK. I hope all those spikes don’t drop off like the previous spikey thing.

  • puckfly

    What’s wrong with proper windows?

  • D.zeen

    Very nice design, but red dot on white floor = flag of Japan
    Shame on UK!!

  • http://www.woodcarvingpainting.com Jian Xu

    I, a native Chinese, I love the sign! You see and you know that. Love, a strong word, isn’t it? It is simply beyond description. And I’m fairly convinced that it is the most beautiful scene, from an aesthetical perspective, at least. The idea of making the unpackaged such as the facets is fine only if the paper-cutting faces will not make the sign less to be a focus. I believe the Heatherwick will do it.

  • Jian Xu

    Concerning the surrounding faceted landscape, how about this: do not make it too bright in color and with too many facets. Rather, to use one color in its coloration; to make most use of its shape, that the landscape and the six-storey pavilion are obviously an organic whole. Is it possible to ask a paper-cutting practitioner to cut out such a model, from which one may get inspired with regard to how to deal with the landscape.

  • J

    The pierced is shinning over the desert. This is it!

  • Zughuru

    it looks like ….

    well it’s so pornographically obvious…

  • geos

    Nice idea but in ,sadly that in reality it looks like a sea urchin :/

  • http://windows geeski

    Fantastico………….

  • http://www.ourjobsearch.com job search

    this looks & sounds amazing & id definitely want to see it, i wonder what the Chinese will think of it, initially puzzled, im not sure, hopefully curious and delighted, that would be really nice. Concerning the surrounding faceted landscape, how about this: do not make it too bright in color and with too many facets. Rather, to use one color in its coloration; to make most use of its shape, that the landscape and the six-storey pavilion are obviously an organic whole. Is it possible to ask a paper-cutting practitioner to cut out such a model, from which one may get inspired with regard to how to deal with the landscape.

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    peterscott

  • Nick

    Unfortunately we just visited the UK pavilion and I am still trying to understand what it means and whats the message that UK passes to the world.
    I am really confused as a pavilion should not be an abstract idea but something that the 70 million visitors will understand. UK has plenty to show to the world but is conservation the most important?
    Seeds that they don’t even exist in UK??
    And the seeds will have any input to the better city better life message of the EXPO??
    I dont think so.
    The hugest disappointment in the wonderful city of Shanghai that compensated us.