Shanghai World Expo 2010 - The Denmark Pavilion

I first saw the design of the Denmark Pavilion about 2 years ago, when the designer Bjarke Ingels presented it at the Datum KL Architecture Forum. I was immediately gripped by the brilliant concept. It was a very interesting form – a double-helix which wraps around itself to provide the ramp for public circulation through the pavilion. Another brilliant concept was to design it as a bicycle-parking facility for Shanghai which is usable after the Expo – very fitting to the Expo Theme of “Better City, Better Life”. And to top it all off, there will be 1,000 bicycles which Expo visitors can borrow to cycle around the Expo Site, plus they will bring the actual Little Mermaid from Copenhagen to Shanghai for the duration of the Expo ! How do you top all that ?

When I visited the pavilion, it looked exactly like Bjarke’s rendering. As for the bicycle concept – in reality I think there were much less then the 1,000 bicycles originally planned, and visitors were only allowed to use them inside the pavilion.

The structural design of the pavilion was truly ingenious, in that you can’t really see how the building is supported. It looked simple and graceful, but there is a lot of engineering wizardry behind to make it that way. The holes on the fa├žade of the building are actually stress patterns, bigger holes where there is less stress and vice versa.

The exhibits were a lot less impressive. As you move up the ramp, there were some large panels and LCD screens showing everyday life in Denmark. I can’t really remember much of what I saw. When you reach the roof top and look down, you see the centre atrium with the pond and the Little Mermaid. It is a very nice view.

A fountain at the roof top activated by jumping on the floor. It kept many of the kids entertained.

At the roof top.

At night all the little holes are lit up individual. They can even display images using this trick. Can you see the letters ? You may have to squint your eyes a little bit.

All and all, the Denmark Pavilion was a very interesting and brilliantly designed piece of architecture. I am not sure whether it would appeal to the non-architects, as the exhibits were a bit lackluster. Still, the Little Mermaid and the free bicycles were a big draw.


Yes, quite a great design but I don't see its usefulness.

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