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Shanghai World Expo 2010, Shanghai, China

Thursday 13 May 2010

Pavilion pleasures

Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China
Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China Shanghai World Expo 2010 by WAN Editorial in Shanghai, China
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25/05/10 Mostafa Salim, Egypt
Totally impressive
18/05/10 Alex Njoo, Melbourne
As an Australian architect I am disappointed that Wood Marsh's pavilion is not accompanied by a video presentation. Both the Finish and Singaporean pavilion designs are enhanced by the excellent accompanying videos. The description of "The single materiality of the cladding (Corten)" etc. does little justice to what appears to be an exciting exploration of platonic shapes. Perhaps it's not too late to urge the Australian government to provide WAN with the essential digital images of its contribution to Shanghai World Expo!
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The next instalment in our guide to the pavilions of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 


Designed by Polish architects Wojciech Kakowski, Natalia Paszkowska and Marcin Mostafa, the basic facade of the Poland Pavilion appears incredibly delicate. The lace-effect exterior is actually based on the motif of folk-art paper cut-out or, as WWA put it, ‘a rendering of the motif, a transcription of an elementary aesthetic code into the contemporary language of architectural decor’. Whilst it may look immeasurably delicate, the facade has been constructed from impregnated CNC plotter-cut plywood with a steel substructure, making it deceivingly strong. WWA have stated that whilst they wished to present a pavilion that showcased the extent ‘of Polish design achievements’, it was imperative for them to create a structure that was intrinsically and unmistakably Polish. As such, their (almost feminine) design attempts to reinterpret old traditions, ‘by way of inspiration rather than replication’. The Polish Pavilion has the added bonus of being equally mesmerising by day and by night, and also from the interior and exterior. Visually striking during the day, at night, multicoloured lights seep through the extensively punctured facade with dramatic effect. From inside the structure, ‘the sun rays shining through...chisel, by light and shade, the space under the vault’, providing an equally impressive experience for visiting patrons. The basic form of the building can be compared to a folded sheet of card, with the wide adjacent ramp allowing visitor access to the roof, turning the entire structure into a huge exhibition space.


Designed entirely by computer using the Finnish Tekla program, JKMM’s concept for the Finland Pavilion has been affectionately nicknamed ‘Kirnu’ (Giant’s Kettle). Although initially this may seem a rather random choice of nickname, its origins stem from the Ice Age, when Finland was covered by a several-kilometre-thick layer of ice, whose movements shaped the coastline, lakes and islands of the land. ‘Giant’s kettles’ was the name given to the gigantic cavities formed in the bedrock when heavy ice drilled stones through the rock. Concentrating on highly sustainable construction techniques and minimum energy consumption, JKMM’s concept was for the pavilion to portray Finland ‘in microcosm, presenting both Finland and its society to the world’. From a distance, the pavilion appears to be a silky smooth structure, and from the air, it can easily be compared to half a yolk-less boiled egg. However on closer inspection, it becomes apparent that the exterior is formed of individual scale-like shingles. In continuation of Finland’s eco-friendly theme, these tiles are made of a mixture of recycled paper and plastic to form a new material: a paper-plastic composite (the paper has been treated to make it waterproof). In order to decrease wastage, post-expo plans include the sale and relocation of the entire pavilion to extend its lifespan, hence the pavilion has been designed using ‘flexible, high-quality solutions’. All of the internal steel structural supports are joined by bolts so that the building can be dismantled and reassembled with relative ease. Heat stress is reduced using light surfaces, the structure of the windows and the direction in which the facilities face, whilst natural ventilation is utilised to reduce the need for unnecessary mechanics.


Imagine you drop an earthy-toned ribbon on the floor and this is the effect given by the Woods Marsh design for the Australia Pavilion. The gently curving, voluptuous pavilion walls create a ‘continuous facade [which] is broken with glazed tears’, as its undulating form splits to provide numerous entryways. Woods Marsh state that the ‘single materiality of the cladding reinforces the form, with the earthy tones of the Corten steel referencing the ubiquitous Australian landscape while the highly sculptural skin expresses the modernity and quality design of [Australia’s] cities’. Whilst the bold and minimalistic exterior may indeed relate in colour to the nation’s landscape, it does not provide the same level of visual stimulation that many of the other pavilions do. Although admittedly a strong design, with a graceful, fluid facade, the most interesting elements of the Australia Pavilion are arguably hidden inside. Now taking part in its seventh expo, the nation have clearly learnt from previous experience as their internal exhibition (created by award-winning team Think!OTS) is extensive in both content and entertainment value. Split into three areas, or ‘acts’ – Journey, Discover, Enjoy – the exhibition is hosted by a fully bilingual staff who ‘will introduce visitors to the sights, sounds and tastes of Australia’. ‘Journey’ attempts to extend views beyond the familiar, stereotypical images of Australia, to relate a historical journey through the Indigenous past and Australian history since European settlement. The second act in this exhibition is ‘Discovery’, which, through a theatre-in-the-round presentation system accommodating up to 1,000 people, will teach visitors about individual Australian cities. Finally, ‘Enjoy’ will allow patrons to experience the Australian way of life for themselves, with multiple high-quality shopping opportunities and a wide range of native food and wine on offer. The pavilion also includes a large performance space inside a full height internal courtyard, where acts expressing Australian arts and culture will be entertaining on a daily basis.


Entitled ‘Urban Symphony’, the design of the Singapore Pavilion attempts to ‘serve as a testament to Singapore’s successful management of two key environmental issues – balancing progress with sustainability’. Based on the mechanics of a music box, the curved facade sports curious irregular protrusions which the architects of the pavilion, Kay Ngee Tan Architects, describe as ‘an orchestra of elements’. The fascinating design contains many natural elements, from the water fountain in the plaza to the rooftop garden, paying tribute to Singapore’s reputation as a garden city. The Singapore Pavilion shares many features with the Finland Pavilion, such as the use of recycled materials wherever possible, a white-tinted curving exterior and specific climate control features which do not contribute to extensive energy consumption. However, the Singapore Pavilion does feature certain symbolic elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Clearly proud of its rich, multicultural heritage, the structure boasts ‘four Pavilion columns supporting the entire structure in a floor comprised of different shapes and sizes [to] represent [the] four main races and foreign guests sharing the same common perfect harmony despite [their] diverse backgrounds’.

Sian Disson
Editorial Assistant

WAN Editorial

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