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10 Architectural Wonders of Expo 2010 Shanghai

Expo 2010 Shanghai is the most expensive, most attended and most internationally-participated world expo in history.  Where the Olympic games are exhibitions in sport, the World Expo is a celebration of the world’s cultures in a peaceful, communal spirit.  Expo 2010 Shanghai, whose theme is “better city, better life” is home to some of the world’s most amazing recent architectural wonders.  To showcase their ingenuity and creative spirit, here is a list of 10 of the best architectural wonders of the 2010 world expo in Shanghai, China.

The Danish Pavilion

The Danish Pavilion in Shanghai is an exhibition of sustainable and urban-minded living as experienced in Copenhagen.  To share this experience, the Danish Pavilion is designed around the city bike, the harbor path, the playground and the picnic.  This white-painted steel structure rises out of the Shanghai Expo grounds in a spiraling pattern, where cyclists and pedestrians alike can tour its features firsthand.  Both Copenhagen and Shanghai are amongst the world’s most bike-focused cities, and the goal of the Danish Pavilion is to concrete this relationship and show that sustainable living options can be of great benefit to a city that is quickly moving toward automotive transportation in Shanghai. [Photography by Iwan Baan, Hanne Hvattun, and Leif Orkelbog-Andresen, via contemporist]

The Danish Pavilion Gallery

The German Pavilion

The German Pavilion is designed to represent a city of balance.  “Balancity”, as the structure is called, represents a balance of “renewal and preservation, innovation and tradition, urbanity and nature, work and leisure”.  Within, Expo-goers can experience the latest in arts and culture from Germany throughout a tour of this city-within-a-city.  The design of Balancity is sculptural in nature, not unlike the works of Frank Gehry or other architects whose structures are as much about statement as they are about functionality.

The German Pavilion Gallery

The Norwegian Pavilion

The Norwegian Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai is an exercise in architecture powered by nature.  Where steel and concrete are the main ingredients of most pavilions and the countries they represent, Norway’s pavilion presents a return to wood as the format of choice.  Not only is the Norway Pavilion built from wood, it’s design is inspired by the trees that are so plentiful in Norway.  15 individual tree-like sections come together to create the pavilion as a whole, with each “tree” having a trunk, body and limbs that support a canopy.  When the Expo 2010 Shanghai is complete, the structure will be disassembled and the trees will be moved to various locations around China to represent the Norweigan spirit.

The Norwegian Pavilion Gallery

The Polish Pavilion

The Polish Pavilion is inspired by the geometric paper-cut patterns of Polish lore.  It’s angular shape welcomes its visitors in a monolithic fashion, designed to represent the history and strength of Polish culture.  Of the pavilions at Expo 2010 Shanghai, its design speaks most clearly of it’s country of origin.  About the pavilion, WWA Architects explained, “Given the nature of the exposition, the exhibition facility has to denote, by its aesthetic distinctiveness, the country of origin, has to constitute, by the strength of its stylistic connotations, an evocative, recognizable and memorable cultural ideogram.”  The Poland Pavilion is a success in this manner, clearly one of this world expo’s greatest architectural works.

The Polish Pavilion Gallery

The Chinese Pavilion

It is the responsibility of a world expo’s host country to make a bold statement with its pavilion.  The Chinese Pavilion is certainly bold, an expansive red crown painted the same color as Beijing’s Forbidden City.  The “Oriental Crown”  features sustainable design features like rainwater harvesting and a passive design, giving it a natural heating and cooling system that does not require fuel.  Like four other pavilions at Expo 2010 Shanghai, the China Pavilion will remain permanent after the expo comes to a close.  It will stand as a national history museum and representational of Chinese spirit long after the expo has concluded.

The Chinese Pavilion Gallery

The Russian Pavilion

The Russian Pavilion at Expo 2010 is an homage to early Slavic ideologies, specifically the concept of the World Tree and its branches as its people.  The Pavilion of Russia consists of 12 white-gold towers, a central cube supported by those towers and the installation within.  Each tower is marked with a pattern that recalls different periods of Russian architecture, from early nomadic settlements to the elaborately-designed cities of today.  The cube at the center of these towers is lifted off the ground by these symbols of Russian culture, or as the architects explained, “hovering in the clouds”.

The Russian Pavilion Gallery

The Canadian Pavilion

The Canadian Pavilion is designed to represent the three core values of life in a modern Canadian city: inclusivity, sustainability and creativity.  The design of the Canada Pavilion is most certainly creative, a wild and angular arc of Canadian red cedar wood attached to a central steel frame.  Those cedar planks cover 4,000 square meters of wall space, each of which will be removed upon closing and re-used in local construction projects.  Inside, the pavilion features a living green wall, a gallery of local artwork and a restaurant featuring signature Canadian cuisine by Julie’s Bistro.  At night, the Canada Pavilion explodes with light in a most emotive fashion, making for one of Expo 2010 Shanghai’s greatest works of architecture.

The Canadian Pavilion Gallery

The South Korean Pavilion

The South Korean Pavilion is easily one of the Expo’s greatest, a brilliant and monumental representation of South Korea’s cultural and technological strength.  It’s exterior is adorned with two different styles of paneling, the white, backlit sections formed by the Korean alphabet, and the colorful accent panels which display Korean iconography.  At night, the pavilion of the Republic of Korea shines softly with the same character and color of Earth’s own moon.  The South Korean Pavilion is not only a clear success at the Expo 2010 Shanghai, but an architectural masterwork on a global scale.  Here it is at its best as photographed by the great Iwan Baan.  [via designboom]

The South Korean Pavilion Gallery

The Portuguese Pavilion

Similar in design to the Canadian Pavilion (but different in construction), the Portugal Pavilion is another favorite of Expo 2010 Shanghai.  At night, the angular panels of the Portugal Pavilion are illuminated with bright red light, appearing to be architecture of the future above architecture of the present.  These panels, both interior and exterior, are decorated with Portuguese cork, a sustainable material indicative of the country’s nature.  Inside, visitors can taste Portuguese cuisine and the famed port wines from the Oporto region of Portugal. [images via flickr users jaywalk and mengyeyue]

The Portuguese Pavilion Gallery

The UK Pavilion

The UK Pavilion is arguably the most symbolic and architecturally progressive pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai.  The “Seed Cathedral“, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is a work of sculptural architecture that carries within it the hope of the world’s future.  It is encased in 60,000 acrylic rods which are inserted into the structure from within– each one embedded with it’s own plant seed.  The Seed Cathedral is both a monument of architecture and an environmental statement, a seed bank with a stock of 60,000 seeds from around the world.  To it’s designer, a “better city, better life” begins with protecting and archiving our world’s ecological identity.  [via archdaily]

The UK Pavilion Gallery

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These 10 pavilions at Expo 2010 Shanghai represent the exposition’s greatest in architectural design.  While others could have been included in this list, the lack of quality imagery kept pavilions from Australia and other nations off this list.  Amongst these 10 and others, what are your favorites at Expo 2010 Shanghai?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  In the mean time, check out these other architecture related features on TheCoolist.com: