Singapore Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010
by Kay Ngee Tan Architects


Singapore Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 by Kay Ngee Tan Architects

Here are some photos of the Singapore Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 by Kay Ngee Tan Architects, taken by photographer Montse Zamorano.

Singapore pavilion

Covered in protruding tabs, the round building is intended to represent the workings of a child's musical box.

Singapore pavilion

It features a hanging garden and fountains playing music.

Singapore pavilion

Here's some more information from the expo organisers:

Pavilion Features

The music-box-like Singapore Pavilion is a two-story structure with an "Urban Symphony" theme. The theme is inspired by the harmony of unique elements in Singapore: progress and sustainability, urbanization and greenery, tradition and modernity and a cosmopolitan mix of residents of different races living peacefully together.

Singapore pavilion

Pavilion Display

The two environmental aspects that Singapore has successfully tackled in balancing progress with sustainability – water and garden – form the softscape of the pavilion as its two design elements. The pavilion incorporates an orchestra of elements into its design – music fountains, an interplay of sounds and visuals, and roof garden flora, with the country's unique rhythm and melody.

Singapore pavilion

Highlight 1: Unique Design

Unique Design Supported by four columns of different profiles, the entire structural system features floors of different shapes and sizes, connected by ramps and stairs suspended from trusses smoothly, to form a tensional balance, which symbolizes a harmonious coexistence of people who live, work and have fun in Singapore.

Singapore pavilion

Highlight 2: "Hanging Garden"

"Hanging Garden" The unique Singapore experience will culminate in the "Hanging Garden" - a rooftop garden landscaped with mysterious flora and music fountains. Here visitors will get a first-hand feel of Singapore as a Garden City.

Singapore pavilion

Highlight 3: Environmental Protection

Singapore Pavilion also highlights its environment-friendly design. Facade slits and chilled water along the perimeter of the ground floor centre space will help reduce massive energy consumption whilst recyclable building materials will feature extensively.

Singapore pavilion

Highlight 4: Beautiful Night View

Beautiful Night View Fountains at the square outside of the pavilion is a prelude of "Urban Symphony". When night falls, dazzling light rays flow out from the interlaced windows and facade slits, rendering the "Music Box" with more charming beauties.

See also:


Danish Pavilion
at Shanghai Expo
UK Pavilion
at Shanghai Expo
Spanish Pavilion
at Shanghai Expo

Posted on Tuesday June 15th 2010 at 12:21 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • LOW

    It’s like a baddie ship from the Power Rangers

  • edward

    Nice bit of whimsy but the tabs seem odd.

  • jackson

    For a country that spends alot of money to grow and promote its design industry, and for one that aspires to be a creative capital of Asia (nevermind the world), this near-farcical project seems counter productive. The concept of a musical box sounds strange enough (as Singapore was never known for being a musical city), but the fact is this design doesn’t resemble a musical box in the slightest manner. It looks like a cheaply executed mash-up of the Singapore Expo’s sci-fi aesthetic and the Esplanade’s “durian” cladding concept. There is a generation of talented architects and designers from Singapore that are rising to the fore and this is clearly not the best Singapore can produce. I hope that they are not so wasteful in 2015, its a real shame this time.

  • Huang

    I fully agree it’s ugly, don’t know whether the design concept or the execution went wrong…

  • Juice Major

    Typical Singapore approach! Pretentious as ever. Each year they have Singapore Airlines on display. I am sure this year is no exception!

  • Albert

    Singapore Pavilion is been listed by almost all newspapers and magazines in Shanghai a MUST SEE pavilion.. including Time Out as the First one to see.

    When i read above comments and seems like all 8 comments posted by same reader which seems to be very strange.

    I visited Shanghai Expo in May and visited almost 30 Pavilions including Singapore one. i did like it very much indeed, and highly recommend to anyone who visits Expo to see it…

  • Kenneth

    Those ugly fins sticking out of the building seems a lot like an afterthought by some year 2 student not knowing what to do with ‘finishing’ the building.

  • jackson

    well of course you can trust the magazines, or you can trust your own judgement and perception. I’m not saying people should skip this pavilion, I’m saying that for anyone who has seen this pavilion but never been to singapore, this pavilion is not a true reflection of what singapore can offer – creatively, intellectually and otherwise. It’s much better than this

  • jackson

    @Juice Major – I don’t agree with you that the Singaporean approach = pretentious, that is a dangerous and inflammatory statement you are making. Criticize the body of work all you want but be objective about it, don’t let your racial or anti-singapore sentiments get the better of you, we don’t want any of that here.

  • David

    I am an architect from Singapore and must say eveything about this project is very disappointing for me as both a professional and a Singaporean. First the building say nothing about Singapore, I do not understand music box concept, what is this for? Second the shape looks without imagination or relevance to my country. It is let down for me as designer who wants my country to be celebrated and respected. Also comments here reflect badly on Singapore architect Kay Ngee Tan who is well known architect in Singapore. Evidence looks like Kay Ngee Tan has treated his collaborator very badly by saying he is alone designer for pavilion and he has let down Singaporean architects with this immoral behaviour. In total this project let’s down my country badly and I am sad this has happened as Singapore is a great country and should be proud of it’s achievements.

  • Jo

    I’d love to see Ken Yeang designing the next pavilion. His “green skyscraper” doctrine is sooo Singapore.
    I think Singapore really need to move forward fast rather than adopting cliche concepts. When it comes to culture and diversity to boast, Singapore has almost none. At least I couldn’t think of Singapore as a country with rich art.

  • Tommy

    The fins on the pavilion look awkward and the story behind them seems to have no connection to Singapore culture. The spaces inside look uninspiring and a little bit like a factory, they do not say anything positive. The garden looks too much like an afterthought and is not well integrated into overall design. Overall, this project is not very good, I like UK and Denmark pavilions, they have good concepts and are exciting to look at, this pavilion looks ugly and boring.

  • dp

    Went to the pavillion the other day and I do not think its as bad as these comments here.

    Firstly, the theme is subtle but it does have link the entire Singaporean culture – we are a melting pot of cultures, do we have an EXACT identity we can say we are? No we can’t. So the only way to do it is to play on this uniqueness – how all our different identities are meshed up to create a beautiful symphony, I think this is basically the jizz of the entire concept which probably some people do not get. Wanting things right smack in your face, which is so typically Singaporean.
    Art and design is all about personal interpretation and its obvious who’re the ones that more well-read and cultured.

    While i also do agree the first floor may be a little disappointing and lack of content to us Singaporeans, they definitely are interesting facts to others. Just because all these are all so familar to us does not mean they are to others. dont see things from a Singaporean’s point of view, view the pavillion as if this is the first time ure hearing about Singapore.

    the vid was awesomely shot and the hanging gardens felt so serene and in a sense, even mythical with the music and children’s laughters
    Its a good showcase of garden city.

    At least one thing i was rather proud of the pavillion was that fact the entire concept stood as purely Singaporean and not sucked up to the Chinese in terms of its theme like many other pavillions did – trying to showcase how their countries are friends/have historical links with China etc etc. thats just bull. Its a world expo, not a china expo. I want to see things related to your country, not related to China.

    Things always can be better in future but whats done is done. Why can’t we rally behind our own pavillion and show the necessary support ?
    It seems that only Singaporeans are the ones bitching at their own pavillion. Thats such a shame and shows the level of openness and understanding its citizens have. Show the support instead of being bitter and do what we are best at doing – complaining.

    Just be appreciative our little city.
    we’ve got to move out of this “first world city, 3rd world citizen” mentality in my opinion.

  • jyanzi

    I am not sure if there was a competition on this project. I would think a national competition open only to singapore architects may result a much more community oriented design with judges from both local and international context.

  • fiona

    dp, i wished i could be as supportive of my country’s pavilion as you are. but perhaps, it is futile to be deluding ourselves. The issue to me is not able Singaporeans wanting ” to get things smack in their face” ie the literal and simple-minded syndrome with no ability to think abstractly. In fact i think the contrary is true, perhaps the complaints have arose due to the very fact that we are expecting the pavilion to be more refined in their portrayal of our country.

    For a start, it is quite a literal idea to be likening the pavilion to a music box. The problem to me is also this fetish the “board” has with branding everything in association with an object. For example : Esplanade–> the Durian, Marina IR-> the three joss sticks.In fact, there was actually a booth in my school urging us to come out with nicknames in which they can liken the pavilion form to.
    Judging by which, the musical box idea seems to me as just another “after thought” to package the project. The panel they pinned up in my school also described the roof gardens as having four circular drums which represents the four main races of Singapore..honestly, what can be more “smack in the face” as to literally translate four main races into four main objects.. not that it made much sense doing so either way.

    In fact, when i visited the pavilion, i felt that there was no room for any personal interpretations of any “art” whatsoever. Reason being, there was NO ART. the statistics that lined the central ramp leading up to the film is the best example. While it is necessary to display statistics, perhaps it was too crude to be printing out so many figures and words and having them stuck on cheap foam boards. Many of the statistics seemed to just be filling space on the walls..for example :the number of paved roads over the years and the number of telephones per household.I am not quite sure how these statistics which are so boringly displayed would do anything to excite or interest visitors from other countries. Randomly to add to the chaos was osim comercials and sketch-ups of our IR.

    Also, I felt that the rest of the races were not adequately a way there was a pro-chineseness in the exhibits displayed such as panels on the peranakan family, the rich chinese ancestors that built the city, chinese ink get the drift. Hence I do not see how this is not trying to hard to appeal to China.

    It saddens me to say this but Singapore seemed to be the only pavilion i visited which did not bother to clad the structure at all. The steel frames and connections within the pavilion was definitely not appealing at all.

    I am quite curious to know how the final scheme was even selected in the first place.

  • Lawrence

    I agreed with many observations posted herein. The Singapore pavilion lacks visual impact, artistic inclination, and innovation and is at best, ordinary. Many countries demonstrated innovation, creativity in architecture, concept and presentation- such as Spain and the UK. Their effort reflected a great sense of commitment and purpose.

    Our effort is apparent after a day of pavilion hopping. It appears simply an awareness of the country – no imagination in form and presentation. If our pavilion is just a tourism or trade office somewhere in the remote western region of China then perhaps the difference in standards is not apparent.

    One would expect our participation to be a demonstration of our technological and intellectual capabilities besides other aspects. Consider this – how different can a garden gets given the many found in the host country itself, how much more impressive a sound system and video presentation gets that some planetarium and cinema can’t match. How many visitors would turn around and catch another glimpse of the architecture and say “wow”.

    It appears that substantial resources must have been invested – but has the maximum mileage gained? Have we killed or merely injured three birds with one stone. In a highly competitive world as it is now, more and bigger “birds’ may need to be killed and the right people identified to throw the stone.

    One good thing out of our participation is that lessons can be drawn and the best way for Singaporeans to assist is through feedbacks. Non-Singaporeans, out of courtesy, tend to commend than criticize and unreliable. One wonders why Singaporeans would complain so negatively if they had not been disappointed or embarrass and are not concerned.

    It is heartening that Singaporeans are supporting with their views. Let us not be indifference and be proactive in the only way we can just so that mediocrity, when suspected, is not left unchecked.

    Perhaps the most disturbing is that our effort may be a reflection of our current state of affairs – mediocrity is creeping in. Let’s wait for the 300+ million dollars YOG.

  • Richard

    I lived in Singapore for almost 14 years.

    This is so typical of Singapore’s architectural+cultural failure.
    All the talk about going green+sustainability.
    Yes we know it is important, but to use it as a reason for architecture.I think…no I don’t even want to think.
    Government promotions of faux art festivals.sigh.

    Redundant fins for ornamentation,
    Totally counter-aesthetic interiors,
    No linkage to anything unique to Singapore at all,
    Pointless theme to begin with.

    If this is the work they exhibit to the world at the expo, I cannot see much hope for Singapore architecture in the near future.

  • jyanzi

    I have not been to the Expo so i am not qualified to comment on the architecture. However, based upon photos and comments given, my response is quoted from a forth-coming book,

    ” Therefore, (re)production in architecture is no more than a matter of Counterfeiting, a simulacrum, that special art of rhetorical difficulty- in Borges’ term, that “pseudo problem” which defines culture as an object of deliberate fabrication”, and the (re)production of architecture is incongruent to the form, function and meaning of prevailing cultural condition.

    The (re) production of architecture is emphatically pursued for ends that is engrossed in an ‘atmosphere of certain untruth’ and becomes the by-product of ‘authority’ and the expression of the intrinsic is forfeited. ”

  • panzx


    Obviously you know nuts about the World expo.

    The over-arching theme for this year’s expo is “better city, better life”, thus, most, if not all pavillions are showcasing green technology, sustainability etc and at the same time each pavillion has to intertwine this theme along with the country’s individual theme as well.

    I must add that to incorporate 2 themes into a single pavillion is not easy and you can actually tell that the more developed countries try to stick with it whilst at the same time showcasing the uniqueness of their own country.

    It would be much appreciated it you visited the pavilions in the expo before commenting.