Shanghai Expo 2010 – Denmarks’ “Wellfairytales” Pavilion

Shanghai Expo 2010 – Denmarks’ “Wellfairytales” Pavilion

The Danish Pavilion for the Shanghai World Expo is designed as a continuous geometric knot, creating a looping ramp which serves as the backbone of the exhibition.

The concept of the Danish Pavilion is based on the telling of Demark’s traditional fairy tales – the stories will be narrated while visitors travel around the pavilion by bicycle,  At the centre of the knot is a pond with a statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘Little Mermaid’

BIG, 2+1 and ARUP understand that the bike is a modern and sustainable urban alternative to the increasing car traffic in Shanghai. The Danish pavilion’s 1500 city bikes will be offered for general use to the visitors during EXPO 2010. After the World Expo, the Pavilion can be moved and relocated for example in People’s Park – as a transferium for the bikes of Shanghai.

Large span cantilever structure with a structural steel façade with natural ventilation.

The building is a loop, housing the exhibition “wellfairytales” in a linear sequence.

The knot is a structural steel box girder forming two interlocking loops, the outer loop cantilevering in space over the entrance to the internal courtyard. The external surface of the box girder is perforated with surface patterns that provide natural ventilation.

The Danish have decided to move their Little Mermaid statue, along with a supertanker full of water from the harbour, to Shanghai. ‘It is more efficient to move the Little Mermaid to China than to move 1.3b Chinese to Copenhagen,’ remarked BIG architects and the 2+1 Ideas Agency.


The statue will sit at the base of a swirling velodrome, where 1,500 Danish bicycles will carry visitors through the exhibits. Meanwhile, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will design a temporary sculpture to fill the space left by the mermaid

The Little Mermaid will be screened live back in Denmark while she is in China as a constant link while she is away. In a poll on Danish TV2’s website, 70% of votes  opposed moving the Little Mermaid copper statue to China for the six month period of the Expo. It will certainly be a powerful symbolic gesture from Denmark to feature such an iconic feature of Copenhagen and Danish literary culture at the World Expo.

The Denmark Pavilion will have indoor and outdoor circular paths. The outdoor path connects the pavilion to its elevated terrace. The terrace includes a Danish-style bicycle track, a rooftop garden with a playground and a bicycle park. The indoor path leads to the exhibition hall, meeting rooms and the administration area.

The design of the Danish Pavilion will be like an open fairytale book with three chapters. The first one by Danish director Martin de Thurah is about Danish people’s daily lives and how to build a city with high quality lifestyle; the second involves Danish photographer Peter Funch’s work telling stories of Danish people’s lives; and the final chapter explores the future of Denmark and China.

BIG Architects are a Copenhagen based group of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. The office is currently involved in a large number of projects throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

BIG’s architecture emerges out of a careful analysis of how contemporary life constantly evolves and changes. Like a form of programmatic alchemy BIG creates architecture by mixing conventional ingredients such as living, leisure, working, parking and shopping. By hitting the fertile overlap between pragmatic and utopia, BIG seeks to change the surface of our Planet, to better fit contemporary life forms.

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