BIG - Danish Pavilion in Expo 2010 Print
Thursday, 11 September 2008 03:35


XPO_OUTSIDE_01.jpg The Danish Pavilion in Expo 2010 Shanghai is a loop, a velodrome and an interactive fairy tale

BIG, 2+1 and ARUP relaunch the bike as a modern and sustainable urban alternative to the increasing car traffic in Shanghai.The pavilion’s 1500 city bikes are offered for general use to the visitors during EXPO 2010.

After the World Expo, it can be moved and relocated for example in People’s Park - as a transform for the bikes of Shanghai. The building is a loop, housing the exhibition “wellfairytales” in a linear sequence.

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Above: Conceptual evolution of the project. Below left: exploded Axonometric.

XPO_EXPLODED AXON.jpgNiels Lund Petersen, associate and project leader at BIG says: "The Danish pavilion should not only exhibit the Danish virtues. Through interaction, the visitors are able to actually experience some of Copenhagen’s best attractions – the city bike, the harbor bath, the nature playground and an ecological picnic”
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XPO_INSIDE_04.jpgBoth Shanghai and Copenhagen are harbor cities. But in Denmark the polluted harbor activities have been replaced by harbor parks and cultural institutions, and the water is so pure that you can swim in it. In the heart of the pavilion you find the Mermaid pool, which is filled with sea water from Copenhagen’s harbor , brought to Shanghai on a tanker. The Chinese guest can swim in the pool, and not only hear about clean water, but feel and taste it. The sculptor Edvard Eriksen’s original Mermaid, will visit China, as a specific example of the pavilion offering a real experience of Danish urban life.
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Mike Lippert, creative director of 2+1 adds: “By lending out The Little Mermaid, not only do we offer the Chinese people an exclusive experience. Her trip will also be an event, which can create global media attention on Copenhagen. It’s a signal about a cultural open mindedness - we lend out one of our most important national symbols”
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While the Little Mermaid is in Shanghai her usual location in Denmark Copenhagen will be occupied by the works of three leading Chinese artists. The artist will take turns in presenting their personal interpretation of the sculpture. The Little Mermaid is the main attraction in the pavilion, but the exhibition will focus on new Danish fairy tales. The visitors will meet the Danes and their way of life.

The World Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicize and display their achievements and improve international relationships. Accordingly, the World Expo with its 150-year history is regarded as the Olympic Games of the economy, science and technology.
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The project is led by BIG’s founder Bjarke Ingels and associate Niels Lund Petersen in collaboration with idea bureau 2+1 and ARUP AGU. Ingels and Petersen’s previous collaborations include SLU - the redevelopment of Slussen in Stockholm, several international hotels, and recently TLT - a tilted high rise in China.
Flemming Borreskov, CO in Realdania states:”The winning project shows, in a very tangible way, that Denmark to a great extent can to contribute to the international scene, in regard to convincing solutions on future urban design and development. BIG’s project fully live up to the EXPO theme: “Better City – Better Life.”

Bjarke Ingels speaks about the pavilion, the little mermaid and being in China:


xpo_inside_01.jpg“The pavilion is designed, as a piece of Copenhagen’s bicycle track, tied as a knot. 1500 city bikes located at the roof scape, offer our Chinese hosts a chance to experience the Danish urban way. Thus, when you arrive to Expo, you visit Denmark, get a bike and explore the rest of the world! When we visited the World Exhibition in Zaragossa, we were stunned by the artificial content. State propaganda in paper maché.

The Danish Expo pavilion 2010 is the real deal, and not just endless talking. You can ride the city bike, take a swim in the harbor bath, and see the authentic Little Mermaid.

The purpose of moving The Little Mermaid is to show that open-mindedness doesn’t necessarily cause you to lose origin or culture. Typically, national symbols are static – a fortress or a tower which is unshakable. Lately, Denmark’s image as a tolerant and open-minded country has been at stake in the global media-scape. The perception of a nation, with a national symbol so dynamic that it can be moved to China for 6 months is a great way of showing that Denmark is still open-minded and liberal towards the rest of the world.

It is also convenient that she is much easier to move than the Eiffel Tower.

Speaking of sustainability, it is considerably more resource efficient moving The Little Mermaid to China, than moving 1.3 billion Chinese to Copenhagen.


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The purpose of inviting some of the best Chinese modern artist to reinterpret The Little Mermaid is to get a new perspective on Denmark and Danish culture. We have realized that we can’t keep admiring our own mirrored image being a part of the global world and culture. We need to understand our fellow human beings on this planet and they need to do the same. Last week, we met Ai Wei wei in Beijing, and he has already accepted the invitation: I am looking forward to visiting Langelinie in 2010!



The Danish pavilion in Shanghai is a significant step in following and meeting the interest from abroad. It is our Project in China, where we have just won a contest ….. We have experienced a great deal of international interest, which beside Scandinavia includes ongoing projects in Eastern Europe, the Middle-East, Central-Asia and Asia. The urban development in for instance Dubai and Kuala Lumpur outdoes any development in Scandinavia in both complexity and ambition, which makes it to a unique laboratory for new architecture.”

Illustrations and text provided by BIG


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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2008 09:08