Project: Danish Pavilion Expo 2010

Location: Shanghai, China

Date: 2010

Architects: BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group

Engineers: Arup AGU / Arup Shanghai

Type: Pavilion

Size: 3000sqm

Stage: Built


The Danish Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo 2010 is an exhibition building designed by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group, in collaboration with ARUP for the structural design after a winning competition entry.

It is primarily an exhibition building portraying life in Denmark. In response to the theme of the expo – “Better City – Better Life”, and celebrate various aspects of Danish culture.

The pavilion is a temporary building and is designed to operate over the six summer months from May to October. It has a net built up area of 3000m2. It is located within the exposition site and encompasses as well general office areas, a kitchen, and conferencing area.

Architecturally, the building articulates into a continuous geometric knot, forming a looping ramp which serves as the backbone of the exhibition. The exhibition space has been designed to be a continuous flowing display area, where pedestrians will move from internal to external and back to internal spaces as they move around the looped building, built on a continuous spiral rising to a total height of approximately 11 meters.

The structure itself is as well a “velodrome”, housing bicycles that will be available for public use – both encouraging a ‘green’ alternative to driving, while promoting a popular aspect of Danish culture. At the centre of the knot is a pond with statue of Hans Andersen’s Little Mermaid, moved from Copenhagen from the occasion.


The exhibition space has been designed to be a continuous flowing display area, where pedestrians move from internal to external and back to internal spaces as they move around the looped building. In the central core of the pavilion a large display pond will showcase Danish art work.


The main plant areas are located in the basement levels, where the conference and kitchen facilities are located. Additional plant space is incorporated into the building floor plate through a technical area located in the structural zone, behind a large display wall that runs the length of the pavilion.


The knot geometry is creating spatial and structural opportunities. Topologically, the pavilion is a continuous unique body. The loop generates a simple and fluid diagram, creating a centre - where the little Mermaid aims to attract attention.

The geometry is a modified logarithmic spiral on plan, and is rectangular tube in section of around 10 m wide by 4.5 m high, for the typical section. The first stage of the geometry has its starting point at vertical core, after which the rectangular tube section moves along the ground through a quarter-circle. The second stage launches into a cantilever which rises to 7.5m above the ground, completes the remaining 270° and connects again to the core, directly above the starting section, creating an aesthetical effect.


The “looping ribbon” experiences through its structural journey different boundary conditions: touching the ground, interlocking, disconnecting, floating, reaching the core interlocking again, and finally reaching the ground. Structurally, the knot is a box girder formed by two interlocking loops, the outer one cantilevering in space over the entrance to the internal courtyard. The tectonic shift between the boxes looping creates a dramatic effect over the cantilever, and an overall dynamic diagram.


The sequence of events at the exhibition takes place between two parallel facades – the internal and external. The internal is closed and contains different functions of the pavilion, and structurally is a fully braced plan. The external facade, pavilion’s façade outwards, is an opened perforated skin porous and smooth. The main concept was keeping the outer layer as light as possible and creating a dialogue between the exterior and the inner exhibition space. The facade is made of perforated stiffened steel plate and is reflecting its structural behaviour. The holes diameters and density into the structural façade are calculated according to the structural stress diagram creating an “informed and graphic structural pattern”. In the evening time, the façade becomes a “sequenced instrument of interactive light illuminating the passers-by”.









All pictures copyright Arup AGU.