Competing with over 200 national counterparts, this was no small challenge. However, Heatherwick’s simple yet ingenious competition-winning proposal for the UK pavilion looks in with a chance. The designers have given over most of the 6,000m² site to a folded landscape, creating the pavilion as an axial focal point. Crucially, instead of an exhibition that bombards visitors with information about the UK, the scheme integrates structure and content.
Externally, the pavilion is a hairy, somewhat amorphous object, with over 60,000 acrylic rods piercing a 15 x 15 x 10m box. Those familiar with Heatherwick’s work will trace this silhouette to an earlier project, Sitooterie II at Barnards Farms in Essex (AR January 2004) in which the designer punctured a cube with 5,000 aluminium tubes. At Shanghai, this precedent is vastly scaled up and the form exponentially more mesmerising, as the rods quiver in the breeze issuing from the nearby river.
The Expo’s theme is Better City, Better Life and the UK explores this through the relationship between nature and cities.....AR