Danish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 by BIG


Shanghai Expo 2010: the Danish Pavilion by Bjarke Ingels Group at Shanghai Expo 2010 opened to the public today along with the rest of the Expo.

BIG's double-loop structure has a cycle park on the roof containing 300 free bikes for visitors, and features as its centrepiece a pool overlooked by the Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen - specially imported for the Expo - where visitors can swim.

All photos are copyright Iwan Baan.

See also our story from September 2008, when BIG won the competition to design the Danish Pavilion, for more info and images.

See all our stories about Shanghai Expo 2010 in our special category.

Here's some text from BIG:

BIG celebrates the grand opening of the Danish Expo Pavilion 2010

The Danish Pavilion at Shanghai's World Expo 2010 designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group opens to the public today.

The Danish pavilion at EXPO 2010 will give visitors the opportunity to try some of the best aspects of Danish city life themselves. Through interaction, the visitors are able to actually experience some of Copenhagen's best attractions - the city bike, the harbor bath, playground settings, a picnic on the roof garden and the opportunity to see the authentic H.C Andersen's Little Mermaid.

"When we visited the World Exhibition in Zaragoza, we were stunned by the artificial content. State propaganda in paper maché. The Danish Expo pavilion 2010 is the real deal, and not just endless talking. You can ride the city bike, take a swim in the harbor bath, and see the real Little Mermaid", Founder of BIG, Bjarke Ingels.

The pavilion is designed as a traffic loop created by the motion of city bikes and pedestrians tied in a knot. Over 300 free city bikes located upon the roofscape, offer the visitors a chance to experience the Danish urban lifestyle which includes biking everywhere. The loops are connected in two places. Coming from the inside, the visitors can move out onto the roof, pick up a bike and re-visit the exhibition by bike as the outdoor cycle path slips into the interior and runs along the entire exhibition before exiting onto the EXPO grounds. The sequence of events at the exhibition takes place between two parallel facades - the internal and external. The internal is closed and contains different functions of the pavilion. The width varies and is defined by the programme of the inner space. The pavilion's external façade is made of perforated steel. In the evening time, the façade becomes a sequenced instrument of interactive light illuminating the passers-by.

The exhibition can be experienced in two speeds, as a calm stroll with time to absorb the surroundings and as a dynamic bicycle trip, where the city and city life rush past. Like a Danish city, the Danish pavilion is best experienced on foot and by bike. This way, the pavilion's theme Welfairytales (Welfare + Fairytales) re-launches the bicycle in Shanghai as a symbol of lifestyle and sustainable urban development. When the Expo closes, the pavilion can be moved to another site in Shanghai and could function as a transfer point for Shanghai's new city bikes.

"Sustainability is often misunderstood as the neo-protestant notion "that it has to hurt in order to do good". "You're not supposed to take long warm showers - because wasting all that water is not good for the environment" or "you're not supposed to fly on holidays - because airtraffic is bad for the environment". Gradually we all get the feeling that sustainable life simply is less fun than normal life. If sustainable designs are to become competitive it can not be for purely moral or political reasons - they have to be more attractive and desirable than the non-sustainable alternative. With the Danish Pavilion we have attempted to consolidate a handful of real experiences of how a sustainable city - such as Copenhagen - can in fact increase the quality of life", Founder of BIG, Bjarke Ingels.

The pavilion is a monolithic structure in white painted steel which keeps it cool during the Shanghai summer sun due to its heat-reflecting characteristics. The roof is covered with a light blue surfacing texture, known from Danish cycle paths. Inside, the floor is covered with light epoxy and also features the blue cycle path where the bikes pass through the building. The steel of the facade is perforated in a pattern that reflects the actual structural stresses that the
pavilion is experiencing making it a 1:1 stress test. The blue cycle path and white concrete surfaces will further define the arrival and exit areas.

Sitting in the harbor pool at the centre of the pavilion is the real Little Mermaid from the harbor of Copenhagen. As one of three of H.C. Andersen's fables, who is affectionally known in China as An Tung Shung, which is read by every child in China, this will be seen as a gesture of cultural generosity between Denmark and China. While the mermaid is in Shanghai her place in Copenhagen will be replaced by Ai Wei Wei's multimedia artwork, including a live broadcast of the statue in Shanghai. Other artists include Jeppe Hein from Denmark, who designed a 'social bench' that will run alongside the bicycle lane and adapts to its environment elastically by incorporating different functions including a bar for food and drink. The works of Martin De Thurah and Peter Funch are also included in the exhibition areas.

"Throughout the design and realization of the Danish Pavilion a wide range of disciplines, such as architecture, engineering, lighting design and art installations meld together to create a single structure that plays like a finely tuned instrument", Project Leader of Danish Expo Pavilion 2010 and Partner in BIG, Finn Norkjaer.

About BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG currently comprises a group of architects, designers, and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research, and development which are comprised of over 20 nationalities. The office is currently involved in a large number of projects throughout Europe, Asia and North America. BIG's architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes, not least due to the influence of multicultural
exchange, global economic flows and communication technologies that together require new ways of architectural and urban organization. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the little details to the BIG picture.

PROJECT: Danish Pavilion at the EXPO 2010
SIZE: 3.000m2
COLLABORATORS: 2+1, Arup AGU, Arup Shanghai, Tongji Design Institute, Ai Wei Wei, Jeppe Hein, Martin De Thurah,
Peter Funch
LOCATION : Shanghai, China

Architect: BIG
Creative Director: Bjarke Ingels
Partner-in-Charge: Finn Norkjaer
Team: Tobias Hjortdahl, Jan Magasanik, Claus Tversted, Henrick Poulsen, Niels Lund Petersen, Kamil Szoltysek, Sonja
Reisinger, Anders Ulsted, Jan Borgstrom, Pauline Lavie, Teis Draiby, Daniel Sundlin, Line Gericke, Armen Menendian,
Karsten Hammer Hansen, Martin W. Mortensen, Kenneth Sorensen, Jesper Larsen, Anders Tverste

See also:


More about this
German pavilion at
Shanghai 2010
French pavilion at
Shanghai 2010

Posted on Saturday May 1st 2010 at 2:01 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • jack the ripper

    so far , the best is the british one.

  • Andrew Chow

    speechless, this is AMAZING.

  • pacman


  • laputa

    As usual it is good, I like BiG’s work

  • fvale

    it’s great. but i still think it looked better on the model..where’s Copenhagen’s silhouette ?

  • T Sandwich

    Make architecture ….. not graphic design into architecture!!!!

  • memo

    Outstanding !!!

  • a

    very nice. and the mermaid is in place. but what happend to the rasterized skyline in the facade?

  • The diagrams are far superior to the photographs.

  • tim

    not quite as cool as the renderings I think but the interior space certainly is beautiful and I hope the bike idea works out. The exterior does seems lacking without the city image. Is there supposed to be more program in there?

  • sam

    I agree with Sandwich, it’s architecture not graphic design, the skyline was in the cheezy direction. Having a dot pattern of material subtraction following the stress patterns of the form works better. The essence communicates the spirit of copenhagen far more effectively than a literal image could.

  • Johan

    this is boring as hell. just two lines lofted and extruded in rhino. whatever happened to computing skills? fast architecture – every BIG project comes from pretty much the same diagram. don’t like.

  • Therese Senac

    They got me at free bycicles, Wish I was there!

  • bob

    and where are the bikes?

  • robotlikerobot

    tip top expo architecture …..and reusable too.

  • Mehdi

    J’aime bien le principe ! mais celui de la Grande Bretagne est le meilleur

  • real work of art!

  • mano

    this one and the brirish pavilon is my favorite

  • meowmix

    it looks good, but enough with the mobius strip already!!!

  • t

    soooo disappointing when compared to the original renders. exactly what I would expect from big…. sorry guys.

  • It’s an engineering feat. Arup worked out the structure so that there are no columns and one self supporting structure. The Project Architect from BIG was making details on the fly, as he couldn’t speak chinese he was literally solving details the old-school way . Props to the BIG group.

  • ondrej

    structural engineer was sweating a lot while trying to find out how this is going to work structurally i suppose :)

  • skywalker

    nice building, but in second sight it´s just copyied and convereted work of oscar niemeyer!!!

  • I don’t understand all those over-critical voices. The design thought and engineering is perfect.

  • Gorgon

    I think it’s a shame that the curves aren’t well done – that wobbly edge simply isn’t good enough for a scheme which relies on a seamless blending of form.

  • laura maranzana skeeters

    Moebius would have been so proud!

    This is simple, sophisticated, engaging, whimsical, genial and truly Feng Sui!

    Even if the concept of the British pavillion is charming, the result is everything but Feng Sui with all the spikes exploding around you and attaching on from every angle. The energy gets dispersed around instead of being properly channeled to harmonize with the surrounding.

  • Lahraichi Youssef

    This one is the best, and that’s all…more than an architecture performance, its a reflection of how great ideas can be materiazed to true a architectural reference, Good Job, Bjarke Ingels Group ….

  • gaguri

    I have to agree with Lahraichi…this was the best, that’s all, end of debate, the end. Unlike other pavilions mostly driven by corporate and special interests…I could feel the architect’s fingerprints on this wonderful work of sculpture and architecture. The journey was just astounding. There was simply no flaw to be found on this undulating form, it twists so effortlessly, and you just follow it drawn to its beautiful movement. Using bicycles, fountain, picnic benches, etc. things that make Copenhagen such a wonderful city (better life, better city) can be experienced as you walk on this curving form, so this pavilion actually sticks to the damn expo’s theme (unlike some pavilions that tried to show how awesome their corporate products are), and wow the view of the expo site on top of this pavilion at night is…just wow.

    I really hope this pavilion doesn’t get taken down after expo, it is a masterpiece of sculpture, exhibition, sights. And integrating them all in effortlessly, a rarity, a true architecture of expo 2010. Bravo BIG, bravo.

  • marie

    It’s a success! I love it :)

  • Motoko

    *clap* clap*clap* beautiful!

  • DesignJudge

    It is a trivial installation based on a few banal gimmicks. This is the best Denmark can come up with? Is this a tourist attraction? A traveling Tivoli? This is not architecture. Let’s hope that Denmark will be better represented in the future with a true vision of an interesting Denmark. A Denmark that is actually contributing and not just looking back. This is a as superficial as anything I have seen from BIG.

  • Dear Dezeen

    We just launched a NEW Shanghai Expo Application


    Please feel free to tell your readers

    Best regards Rurik Nystrom
    Creative Director

  • r

    architecturally it is an outstanding project; i always greatly admire the work of big and the clarity they bring to an often overly cacaphonic/messy world. kudos to them.

    however, it is a shame that this pavilion, like the majority at the expo will soon be vacated leaving a ghost town. millions of dollars will have been spent in the quest of shameless national self-promotion and shanghai is afterwards left with very little. i think the entire concept of the expo has to be reconsidered. what if, instead of building autonomous unsustainable pavilions (nothing is sustainable about a two-square mile construction), the next world expo took place in an impoverished city and nations built permanent useful structures that after serving as national promotion could actually help improve an area (eg. schools, housing)?

  • International

    100% superficiality

  • ryan

    wow. dude that said that BIG’s work is all superficial…you are just ….wrong.

    you have clearly never looked into the meanings of any of their work. they are one of the most progressive firms i have read about, socially, ecologically, just all around.

    if you don’t like the aesthetic, just admit thats all you know to think about.

  • Linc

    The inner curve is well developed. In scale 1:1 the loop keeps consistency. But about

    “they have to be more attractive and desirable than the non-sustainable alternative.”

    Was the project design and developed under any Eco-rating system?

    If you want to reach more attraction probably you have to go over the standard, the law. Doing it more aesthetic seductive as well. That’s the challenge, isn’t?

    Avoiding falling down in the “greenwash” category.

    Bikes are cool.

  • Ivy

    Actually I went there last month, the bikes didn’t work!

  • How do you know that? Do you work with them?