2010 event reported to be most expensive in fair’s history

Tomorrow sees the opening of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. This year’s event is reported to be the most expensive in the World’s Fair history and, as a result, plenty of landmark buildings have been created to allow nations to promote and display their achievements and expertise.

Centre stage is the Expo Boulevard - a 1,000m long, 100m wide structure that features six 45m-high double curved steel and glass funnels and the largest membrane roof in the world. Designed by German engineer Knippers Helbig, it forms the central entrance and links the various national and theme-based pavilions. It’s one of the five buildings that will remain after the expo to form a new urban district in Shanghai.

As well as working on the masterplan of the expo with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, global engineer and designer Arup also helped create three of the national pavilions.

The Korea pavilion sits on the perimeter of the Shanghai Expo site. The clever structural solution effectively lifts the whole building 7m above ground to reduce obstruction to visitors’ movements. Arup structural engineers used steel jack-in pipe piles for the foundation, which will help when it is disassembled after the expo at the end of October.

The surface of the facade is clad in two types of panels or “pixels” and sequential lighting behind the external pixels will light up individual letters cut into the panels at night and animate the pavilion. The interior on the other hand is one surface made up of 40,000 45cm x 45cm aluminium panels designed or selected by Korean artist, Ik-joong Kang, famed for his massive art walls.

The Denmark pavilion is designed as a continuous geometric “knot”, creating a looping ramp, which serves as the backbone of the exhibition. The design required a column-free exhibition space and the top level of the knot is cantilevered dramatically from its main support. This brought big challenges to Arup structural engineers. The solution is a “hidden support” - the overlapping sides of the upper and lower boxes - that provides a truss support to reduce the cantilever span of the pavilion without constraining the architecture. The end result is a building that appears to float with minimum obstruction to the visitor’s movement at ground level and exhibition floor. To improve the stiffness of the structure without increasing the amount of materials used, the steel plate outer facade was used as a structural element. The perforation in this enable daylight to enter the space and better natural ventilation however, their arrangement varies with the structural stress along the facade resulting in an interesting pattern on the exterior of the building.

The Singapore pavilion is a two-storey, 3,000m2 structure. It’s designed to resemble a music box and the entire structure is held up with only four columns. While the upper floors of the structure are cantilevered off the columns, ramps and stairs are suspended off trusses, leaving a column-free space below.

A waved interior wall provides an evenly distributed sound and a unique visual experience for visitors. The pavilion form is shaped to allow natural wind to blow through the ventilation slots in the facade and relieve the space inside of warm air, which is released at the top of the facade.