advertisement
advertisement

Architecture’s Very Own Beauty Pageant

The 2010 World Expo, in Shanghai, is shaping up to be the architecture world’s version of Miss Universe.

If the idea of a World’s Fair seems antiquated to you–that is, something out of the 1950’s, and filled with exhibits about flying cars coming in the year 2000–then clearly, you don’t think like the Chinese. In 2010, Shanghai will host the World Expo, and they’re taking the whole thing incredibly seriously–not quite the Beijing Olympics, but pretty damn close. Organizers are telling people (with a straight face) that they expect 70 million visitors.

advertisement
advertisement

With numbers like those, they’ve managed to secure the participation of dozens of countries, each of which is designing a pavilion to showcase what they’re about. Inevitably they’ll be judged against one another–creating what amounts to the closest thing that the architecture profession has to the Miss Universe pageant. We’ve already brought you a selection of a few designs; in recent weeks, some of the most design-conscious countries have finally released theirs. Here’s a selection:

For a country whose designers are obsessed with minimalism at its most severe, Belgium came up with startlingly literal-minded take on the challenge. The country wants to be seen as a nexus of ideas so Conix Architects designed…a brain cell. Which I suppose makes the people drifting in out the “blood.” Or something:

Conix Architects brain cell
Conix Architects brain cell

Britain secured the services of homegrown-genius Thomas Heatherwick. His idea basically resuscitates the form of an older project in Scotland. In China, the British Pavilion will be covered in thousands of luminescent spines, that will sway in the wind, like an enormous, high-tech koosh ball:

British Pavilion

For the French, Jacques Ferrier Architects is taking a pastoral, green approach: They’re putting an enormous French garden inside an open lattice, that will support a photovoltaic array:

Jacques Ferrier Architects
Jacques Ferrier Architects

Another super-literal take comes from the Swiss, who aim to recreate an Alpine experience using super-high-tech means. Buchner Bründler Architects plan to take the whopping $18.5 million budget and spend it on a grassy roof and a curtain wall made of soybeans and dye-sensitized solar cells. The latter will generate electricity, that will in turn help power a mini-cable car that will shuttle 3,500 visitors an hour around the site, like a slow-motion rollercoaster:

Buchner Bründler Architects

The Italian pavilion, designed by Giampaolo Imbrighi and Studio Iodice, will have twenty separate rooms, created by lines meant to evoke the game of Pick-up Sticks. The connection: In Italy, Pick-up Sticks is called Shanghai, and was supposedly brought there by Marco Polo.

advertisement
Studio Iodice
Studio Iodice

//

[Via Arch Daily, which has more pics of the British and Belgian Pavilions; DesignBoom has pics of the French; ArchTracker has the Swiss; and PlotCad has the Italian]

advertisement
advertisement

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

More