The pavilion is covered in 60,000 transparent rods, each containing seeds from the Millennium Seed Bank in the UK.
Shanghai Expo 2010 opens in May.
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UK unveils images of acclaimed Pavilion at Shanghai Expo
With just one month to go until the opening of Shanghai Expo 2010, the largest Expo ever held, the UK is releasing exclusive images of its acclaimed Pavilion.
Sir Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the senior official responsible for the UK’s contribution to Shanghai Expo, said: “The UK Pavilion is already one of Expo’s star attractions. It has not only generated huge interest in China - and a nickname, the ‘Dandelion’, a Chinese good luck symbol - but photos of this extraordinary building have been used from LA to Lisbon and from Caracus to Calcutta as the defining image of Shanghai Expo.
“China, one of the fastest-growing and largest economies in the world, will be central to the UK’s economic future. The ground-breaking design of the UK Pavilion is helping to overcome images of the UK as a land of swirling fog and cobblestones. Amidst over 230 pavilions jostling for attention, the UK Pavilion stands out.”
Seventy million people are expected to visit Shanghai Expo, which opens to the public on 1 May for six months. Many millions are expected to visit the UK Pavilion alone.
The theme of Shanghai Expo is “Better City, Better Life”. This inspired British designer Thomas Heatherwick to use the UK’s expertise in urban planning to create a unique and open space. Instead of creating a building covering the entire football pitch-sized site, he created a park in which people could relax in one of the world’s busiest urban spaces.
Thomas Heatherwick said: “It has been a tremendous achievement of the team to deliver such a complex structure. I am excited that the Seed Cathedral is now complete and I look forward to the millions of visitors to the Expo enjoying the space.”
The Seed Cathedral sits in the centre of the UK Pavilion’s site, 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. During the day, they act as optic fibres and draw daylight inwards to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole structure to glow. As the wind moves past, the building and its optic “hairs” gently move to create a dynamic effect. The seeds have been sourced from China's Kunming Institute of Botany, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership.
Professor Stephen Hopper, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew said: “We are delighted to be involved in the UK Pavilion – especially as 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Seeds stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank in the UK, and in our partners’ seed banks around the world, have the potential to enable human innovation, adaptation and resilience; helping current and future generations to lead better lives.”
Simon Featherstone, project director of the UK’s presence at Shanghai Expo, said: "As we approach the opening of Shanghai Expo, one can sense a real excitement about the UK Pavilion, which is now substantially ready. The Pavilion is looking stunning, particularly inside the Seed Cathedral. We can be proud that the UK has chosen a design which is so striking and unique. Our team of hosts, performers and event managers is now in place and eager to give our visitors a warm British welcome."
There will be a major programme of business events organised and over 1,000 business meetings designed to introduce to Chinese investors and businesses the benefits of doing business with the UK.
There is also an extensive programme of cultural and education activities over the 184 days of Expo. There will be street theatre-style entertainment around the UK Pavilion, and installations on the theme of “nature and the city,” covering the importance of green spaces in UK cities and its rich architectural tradition. Other activities will take place around China and online at www.ukshanghaiexpo.com .
The British Council is a founder sponsor of the pavilion and coordinating the cultural programme. Leigh Gibson, Director for Content and Programme for UK Expo, said:
“Shanghai Expo will demonstrate the UK’s creativity and innovation on the international stage. The UK’s programme of events on the UK’s Pavilion site, in the Expo Park, around Shanghai, throughout China and online will reflect the UK’s regional and national excellence and diversity in arts, business, culture, sports, science and education.”
The UK Government has worked with private sector sponsors on the Expo. They are BP, Diageo, GKN, Barclays and AstraZeneca.
• China is forecast to become the world’s second largest economy in 2010.
• The UK is the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Europe and China is the UK’s fastest growing export market.
• The Chinese Government’s $55 billion investment in infrastructure for Shanghai Expo is more than double the cost of the Beijing Olympics.
• The rods in the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo will be recycled and distributed to schools across China and in the UK, and to Kew and its Chinese partners.
• The UK, the sixth biggest manufacturer in the world, has the largest industries in Europe for creative industries, life sciences, financial services and ICT.
• With four out of six of the world’s top universities, the UK is the largest recipient of R&D investment in Europe, and has won more Nobel prizes than any other country in Europe.