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Sustainability and Singularity

Anne Warr finds uniting themes at Shanghai Expo 2010.

Sustainability and Singularity


April 26th, 2010


Sustainability as a design generator

Sustainability has been used as a design generator for a number of the national pavilions.

The Spanish Pavilion by the Barcelonese studio Miralles Tagliabue (EMBT) is clad in more than 8,000 wicker panels handmade by craftsmen in Shandong Province.

The wickerwork cladding unites China and Spain through a shared craft tradition, while displaying the possibilities of a low-tech renewable resource.

The Finnish Pavilion is surfaced in scale-like shingles, a new construction material made of recycled paper and plastic, while a newly developed translucent concrete envelopes the Italian pavilion by architect Giampaolo Imbrighi.

A single idea

Many national pavilions have struggled to find ways to adequately represent their brand in such a small space. Others have opted to focus on a single idea as a way of expanding our thinking about a time and place.

The United Kingdom pavilion, by Thomas Heatherwick, explores the relationship between nature and the city.

The six storey high pavilion is formed with 60,000 slender transparent rods which focus natural light onto a single seed at the end of each rod. The seeds are from the Millennium Seedbank, a project run by the Royal Botanical Society at Kew Gardens to research, store and catalog a seed from every plant existing in the world.

The UK pavilion has four other display areas, each one drawing on the theme of nature and the city.

Shanghai Expo 2010



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