UK Pavilion for Shanghai World Expo 2010 by Heatherwick Studio
The UK pavilion “The Seed Cathedral” is the winner of the Shanghai World Expo 2010, and also the team described it as a gift from UK to China. The team had three goals: The first one was to design a pavilion whose architecture was a direct manifestation of what it was exhibiting. The second one was to ensure a significant area of open public space around it so visitors could relax and choose either to enter the pavilion building, or see it clearly from any side. And thirdly, it would be unique among the hundreds of other competing pavilions.
“We wanted to represent the inventiveness and creativity to be found in contemporary British life. Taking our cue from the Expo theme, which was the future of cities (“better city, better life”), we started to explore the relationships between cities and nature and the significance of plants to human health, economic success and social change” said by the team.
Due to the small budget given to the project, they designed the master plan by creating a one focal object occupying one-fifth of the site, and put it on the highest level in the site and the rest of it is an open space. This space gives visitors a breathing space, where they might recuperate from expo-exhaustion, and frame the focal object by separating it from its chaotic surroundings.
The Seed Cathedral is a box, 15m high and 10m tall, constructed from 60,000 transparent fiber optic filaments, 20mm square in section, which pass through aluminium sleeves and 7.5-metre long optical strands.
There are 250,000 seeds cast into the glassy tips. By day, the pavilion’s interior is lit by the sunlight that comes in along the length of each rod and lights up the seed ends. When you move around, the light moves with you. By night, light sources inside each rod illuminate not only the seed ends inside the structure, but the tips of the hairs outside it, covering the pavilion in tiny points of light that dance and tingle in the breeze.