UK Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010Designed by Heatherwick Studio, the British Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo 2010 explores the relationship between nature and cities, and comprises an architecturally iconic Seed Cathedral, and a multi-layered landscape treatment.
RIBA Competitions was delighted to be associated with this competition managed by Malcolm Reading Consultants to design the British Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo 2010. The ultimate aim was to create a complete visitor centre experience and to combine design components that would deliver a lasting impression of the British contribution to the Expo theme: Better City, Better Life.
The Shanghai World Expo 2010 is the biggest event of its kind since the Expo phenomenon began in 1851. It is staged on a city centre site beside the Huangpu River and features pavilions representing the ideas and culture of more than 200 countries and international organisations. Visitor numbers exceeded 70 million during the six month event, which ran from 1 May to October 31 2010.
Thomas Heatherwick's winning design explores the relationship between nature and cities, and comprises an architecturally iconic Seed Cathedral, and a multi-layered landscape treatment.
The Seed Cathedral sits in the centre of the UK Pavilion's site, 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent fibre optic rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its top. During the day, they 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 its optic 'hairs' gently move to create a dynamic effect. Visitors will pass through this tranquil space surrounded by tens of thousands of points of light illuminating the seeds.
The Seed Cathedral's surrounding landscape acts as a continuation of the building's texture. A special artificial grass surface has been uniquely developed to act as a welcoming and restful public space for Expo visitors.
In order to reduce unnecessary transportation, 75% of the materials for the UK Pavilion have been sourced from within a radius of 300km around Shanghai. It is also the British government's intention that most of the materials will be reused or recycled at the end of the Expo. Just as dandelion seeds are blown away and disperse on the breeze, the Seed Cathedral's 60,000 optic hairs, each one containing the huge potential of life, will be distributed across China and the UK to hundreds of schools as a special legacy of the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo.
RIBA Lubetkin Prize 2010
RIBA Award 2010