On May 1st, the doors to the World Expo 2010 opened in Shanghai, China. The Expo is intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas and innovations related to the world economy, culture, science and technology. It is a valuable chance for exhibitors to share their accomplishments and to improve international relations between countries. The Expo will continue throughout the summer and fall.
The architectural highlight of the Expo is 239 Pavilions, each designed and built by a different country, all competing for a place in the top 5 most popular pavilions at the Expo. The combination of highly accomplished architects and big government budgets has achieved some truly stunning results. My favorite, however, comes from the UK and is the vision of architect, Thomas Heatherwick.
The UK pavilion, officially titled “the Cathedral” and nicknamed “the Dandelion”, is created from 60,000 7.5m acrylic rods, extending outwards from a central exhibition space. The rods move in circular patterns when the wind blows across the structure, mimicking the movement of a dandelion seedhead (hence the nickname). The rods are transparent, allowing light from the outside to penetrate into the exhibition area. At night, fiber optic elements within each rod emit a soft glow. Also inside each of the 60,000 rods is a seed, which can be viewed from the interior of the exhibition space. The seeds (60,000 different species) were donated by the Kew Gardens Millenium Seedbank.
The pavilion aims to explore the relationship between nature and cities and to make a real contribution to the Expo’s theme, Better City, Better Life, through performances and exhibitions within the pavilion itself. All of the materials to build the pavilion were sourced within 300km of the World Expo Site.
Lead Designer: Heatherwick Studio
Project team: Thomas Heatherwick, Katerina Dionysopoulou, Robert Wilson, Peter Ayres, Stuart Wood, Ingrid Hu, Jaroslav Hulin, Chiara Ferrari and Ramona Becker
Key Construction Materials: steel and timber composite structure, 60,000 fiber optic filaments, aluminum sleeves
Optic fibers: 60,588
Optic fibers length: 7.5 meters
Seeds in Seed Cathedral: 217,300
Source of Seeds: China’s Kunming Institute of Botany, a partner in Kew Royal Botanic Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank Project.
Read more about the UK Pavilion and check out these images.