London in Shanghai: Seed Cathedral

Monday 22 Mar 2010

Thomas Heatherwick's design for UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010

The upcoming Shanghai Expo 2010 has led to preparations all over the world, with a concentration on the importance of architecture and its reflection of the country it represents. In September 2007, Heatherwick Studio, (lead architect Thomas Heatherwick), won a competition to design the UK Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo. With a team that includes Adams Kara Taylor and Atelier Ten, Heatherwick Studio created a design was set to incorporate elements of all four UK countries, with the focus on their capital cities – London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.

London is arguably one of the greenest cities in the world, with 40% greenery within its boundaries. Heatherwick Studio’s design shines a light on the integration of urban landscape and the natural world throughout the UK. The UK Pavilion itself is designed to be composed of 60 000 thin, transparent, flexible rods, each at 7.5m in length. With such a sinuous structure, the rods will bend and sway in the slightest of breezes, creating the effect of hundreds of cilia. Inside each tube will be seeds, representing the UK’s incorporation of nature into everyday life. Due to the transparent nature of the extended rods, daylight will flood into the central room of the ‘Seed Cathedral’, whilst at night the exterior is designed to glow as the light filaments inside each tube begin to shine.

Film production company squint/opera have recently completed a film on the UK Pavilion project, mapping the ideas behind the architectural design. Using a mix of 2d and 3d graphic animation, the short film explores London’s extensive relationship with the natural world and how Heatherwick Studio have incorporated this into their project for the Shanghai Expo 2010: Better City, Better Life. You can watch the film by clicking here.

Sian Disson

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