Sunday, November 7, 2010

2010 World Expo Closes in China

The architecture every one is talking about these days is not in Dubai, but China.  On October 31, the Chinese finished hosting the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai where over 73 million people visited the 5.28 square kilometer (1300+ acres) site.  Nearly 200 countries participated in the event whose overall theme was “Better City – Better Life” signifying Shanghai’s “new status” as the “next great world city.”



Perhaps the greatest part of the Expo are the Pavilions.  This year, there were five central themes exploring urban development.  They included Urban Footprints, Urban Planet, Urbanian, City Being and Urban Future.  There were both National and Corporate pavilions.  Here’s a look at a few of the National pavilions.


The Latvian Pavilion theme was “Innovation City of Science and Technology.”  It featured an interior wind tunnel.


The Australian Pavilion had curving walls and a red exterior symbolizing it’s great natural monument Ayer’s Rock.  Its theme was ImagiNation.


The Chinese Pavilion’s theme was “Chinese Wisdom in Urban Development.”  It featured elements of traditional Chinese architecture dating back 2000 years that utilized interlocking wooden brackets or “dougong” for the roof.  This building was called “The Crown of the East.”


Japan’s Pavilion featured a purple membrane exterior and was modeled after a breathing organism.  Its theme was “Harmony of the Hearts, Harmony of the Skills.”  The Chinese called it the “Purple Silkworm Island.”


The Brazilian Pavilion’s concept was to highlight the cultural diversity and dynamism of its cities.  Its theme was “Pulsing Cities:  Feel the Life of Brazilian Cities.”  The green intersecting wooden lace exterior was symbolic of its forests and a recyclable material.


Canada’s Pavilion, shaped like the letter “C,” invited guests to enter through a gap in its exterior where they then proceeded through an interior courtyard to the building entrance.  It featured a virtual waterfall and the Cirque du Soleil.  Its theme was “The Living City:  Inclusive, Sustainable, Creative.”


The French Pavllion appears to be floating and features the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of France.  Its theme was “Sensual City.”  The exterior is made of a special concrete mesh and featured planted walls as well as a green roof garden. 

“Norway, Powered by Nature” themed the Norway Pavilion.  The wood structure was made up of 15 “trees” covered with a semi-transparent roof that provided enough solar energy to make the entire pavilion self sufficient.


“Balancity” was the theme of the German Pavilion.  It featured a cone-shaped structure that housed a revolving Metal Sphere.


Designed as a “hand-weaved” wicker basket, Spain’s Pavilion was themed “From the City of our Parents to the City of our Children.”  Each panel on the exterior was hand made and unique.


The United Kingdom’s Pavilion featured the theme of “Building on our Past, Shaping our future.”  It was dubbed as the “Seed Cathedral” and the area around it represented wrapping paper, that had fallen away to reveal the treasure inside.  It featured a tour of it’s major cities including London, Belfast, Edinborough and Cardiff, as well as a special Olympic Corner previewing the 2012 Olympics.


Finally, the United States’ Pavilion was designed around the theme of “Rise to the Challenge.”  It was a large grey steel structure that symbolized an eagle spreading its wings.  It conveyed four core concepts of sustainability, teamwork, health and the spirit of striving for success and presented the U.S. as a place of opportunity and diversity.

I can only dream of going to something like this one day.  I can’t imagine being there! 

These great World Expos or Fairs take place roughly every three or four years, depending upon which country commits to hosting it.  Italy will host the World Expo 2015 in Milan.  The history of these world fairs began in London in 1851.  Their purpose was to express the hopes of the day, showcase outside cultures, scientific advances, new inventions and also, to generate revenue.  To learn more about the history of these great events, go Here.

Finally, Shanghai has announced its plans to build a World Expo Museum and intends to conserve expo exhibits and popularize world expo history.  To read and learn more about the 2010 World Expo, visit their website Here.


  1. A landscape architect friend is working in China now. Says "they are doing a whole city" without rules and regulations to bother with.

  2. Traditionally, there was no set interval between world's fairs, but starting with the year 2000, the plan is to have a large "sanctioned" exposition every 5 years with the possibility of a smaller "recognized" exposition once between each large one (but not in an adjacent year).

    There will be a small 3-month Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea and a large 6-month Expo 2015 in Milan.

    Soon, cities will start bidding for the 2017 or 2018 slot as well as the 2020 slot.

    Urso Chappell

  3. Terry- I would just love to work in such an exotic place as China. How fun! And Urso, we are honored for your visit and insight. Your website is amazing and a wealth of information. We will check back there regularly to keep up with the current events. Thank you!

  4. Amazing. I was in Shanghai a year too early.

  5. I was lucky enough to be in Shanghai in August and spend several hours at the Expo. The Spanish pavillion was breathtaking at night. Lit up from inside, you could really see the basket-weave motif. Given this is a gardening forum, a special shout-out to New Zealand and their gorgeous roof garden.


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