The first structure in this week’s Shanghai Expo lowdown isn’t actually a pavilion in itself, but is worthy of a mention for the dramatic statement it makes and for its complex architectural and design. A collaboration between architectural and urban design practice SBA and Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, the Expo Boulevard is the first large-scale purpose-built structure that visitors come into contact with as they enter the exhibition. Second in size only to the China Pavilion, the Expo Boulevard is located on the Huangpu River, west of the town centre Pudong. Stretching across the entire expo site, the vast system of funnels and visitor amenities is 1km long and 100m wide. Made up of six funnel-shaped framework shells consisting of steel and glass at a height of 45m, the structure creates a rather dominating entrance for the exhibition. The roof itself is supported by 19 interior and 31 exterior masts which reside alongside the funnels, or ‘Sun Valleys’, allowing direct natural sunlight into the basements. Between these immense funnels is a spacious supplemental membrane roof which covers 65,000 sq m and has a tensile strength of 8,000N/5cm. The static concept is mainly characterised by the combination of the exterior masts and the inner low points between which the membrane spans. They are complimented by wind suction cables in the plane of the membrane between the high and low points and the hangers, which are fixed to them to prevent the membrane from collapsing. The structure was originally built to house public services, including a box office, security gate, restaurants, shops and so forth, however it has also been chosen as one of five select structures to remain after the World Expo comes to a close. As such, multiple design meetings had to be held between the architects, engineers and the Chinese consultants as officials had to be convinced that the Boulevard could withstand the regular typhoons that batter the site.
John Kormeling’s design for the Dutch Pavilion centres on a much simpler, yet equally effective concept as the Expo Boulevard. Taking the Shanghai Expo’s theme ‘Better City, Better Life’ rather literally, Kormeling’s complex is the realisation of his own personal vision of a perfect city. Combining elements of various Dutch architectural styles, the ‘Happy Street’ pavilion includes a factory, offices, cinema, workshop, football field, greenhouse and numerous other elements of everyday Dutch life. Rijk Blok who worked with Kormeling on the pavilion project states that ‘a good street should combine all these functions and offer a variety of buildings and activities thus ensuring a better quality of life’. Blok seems to be in two minds as to how sustainable the Dutch Pavilion is, noting that in terms of the life span of ‘Happy Street’, the immense amount of energy and materials used to construct the complex results in a hugely unsustainable building, henceforth steel has been used as the main building material as it can be recycled and reused multiple times. Allegedly, the architects of the Dutch Pavilion attempted to negotiate with suppliers in order to lease the materials necessary for the construction in order to reduce building costs and increase sustainability, however it seems that ‘all stakeholders involved in the building process are far from ready for this kind of sustainable building’.
Last but by no means least this week is Haim Dotan LTD Architects with Designer Prosper Amir's Israel Pavilion. Standing at 24m high this 1,300 sq m pavilion is a symbol of interdependent relationships, ‘a quiet conversation between man and earth, man and man, nation and nation’. Two curvilinear forms merge together in a calm, swirling display of dialog between symbolic entities. Haim Dotan Architects suggest that ‘Within the two forms are two uplifting architectural spaces, symbolising the spirituality of the ancient Jewish nation’. As such, the interior space is split into three exhibition areas – Enlightened Garden, Hall of Light and Hall of Innovations. This progression exemplifies Israel’s awareness of its traditional heritage and tracks its journey towards an innovative future – equally displayed by the interlocking architectural forms of the pavilions exterior.