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UK Pavilion Shanghai Expo, Shanghai, China

Monday 02 Jul 2012

Adding a touch of sparkle

Copyright: Hufton+Crow 
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Award Entry

AKT II bring Heatherwick Studio's UK Pavilion to life 

The UK Pavilion designed by Heatherwick Studio at the 2010 Shanghai Expo expresses British creativity and environmental engagement at the biggest event of its kind in the world. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office believes that the Seed Cathedral and UK Pavilion site proved to be one of the Shanghai Expo's star attractions.

The Seed Cathedral sits in the centre of the UK Pavilion's site, 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent acrylic rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. 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 and its optic "hairs" gently move to create a dynamic effect.

The Seed Cathedral is made from a steel and timber composite structure pierced by 60,000 acrylic filaments, 32mm square in section, which pass through aluminium sleeves. The holes in the 1 metre structural grillage wood diaphragm structure forming the visitor space inside the Seed Cathedral were drilled with great geometric accuracy to ensure precise placement of the aluminium sleeves through which the optic fibre filaments are inserted. 3D computer modelling of the structure and cladding was used, with the data being transferred to CNC milling machines.

The surrounding circulation areas, constructed using cantilever frames supporting reinforced concrete slabs to form canopies over a naturally ventilated space, were used for cultural and commercial events hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office during the Expo.

In order to reduce unnecessary transportation and improve the sustainability criteria, 75% of the materials for the UK Pavilion were sourced from within a radius of 300km around Shanghai. It is also the British government's intention that most of the materials of the UK Pavilion will be reused or recycled at the end of the Expo.

Client : Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK

Architect: Heatherwick Studio

MEP Consultant: Atelier Ten

Principal Contractor: Mace

Key Facts

Status Completed March 2010
Value £25m(m€)
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