UK Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010

uk pavillion
With just one month to go until the opening of Shanghai Expo 2010, the largest Expo ever held, the UK is releasing 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

5 Responses to “UK Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010”

  1. noname May 9, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    This design of UK pavillion and the previous one of this Heatherwick Studio is coming first from the french group in 2001, R&Sie(n)
    But in this case it was not a pilosity to produce a decor for Chinese word fair but as a powerstation…for transferring sun energy in the Unplug sustainability…
    Why architects are always reducing ideas to aesthetic scleroses ?

  2. spasmody June 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    seen again and again, but the UK Pavilion is still amazing

  3. peter hemmings September 21, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Im from england but now living in shanghai, i went to the uk pavilion and found it to be very very boring. Just glass tubes with seeds, i did not see anything more. Was there anything under it, if there was i did not see a way in. To think i was luky i did not have to wait to go inn. Most people waited for hours just to see what i think was a waist of time and money. All the other pavilion are wonderful but the for uk.

    yours peter hemmings


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