Page 1 of 2
The Danish pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010 is perceived as a fragment of Denmark, as opposed to a show of empty words and superficial imagery. Through interaction, visitors can experience real elements of Copenhagen; like riding a city bike and swimming in the harbor bath.
“Denmark is a small country. Only 5 million people. But we’ve been a country for 1000 years. A very homorganic and happy country and a fun place to be in.” said Christopher Bramsen, Commissioner General of Denmark at the Danish Pavilion. The Danish pavilion, called "Welfairytales" - as a blend of the words ‘welfare’ and ‘fairytales’ - , showcases a fairy tale world with the Little Mermaid, the country's symbol, as she sets out on her first visit to Shanghai. The pavilion’s fairytale was arranged in three chapters: the story of Danish cities, the story of the Danish people and the story of Danish technology and solutions for future urban living. The design of the pavilion was decided in a contest between eight architecture companies. The design was entirely left up to the architect, however it was important that the values of the Danish people be reflected in the pavilion design. Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) won the design opportunity, the firm is based in Copenhagen and comprised of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating in the filed of architecture, urbanism, research and development. The office is currently involved in a large number of projects in countries across Scandinavia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. BIG’s architecture emerges out of “a pragmatic utopian architecture that steers clear of the petrifying pragmatism of boring boxes and the naïve utopian ideas of digital formalism.”The pavilion gives visitors the opportunity to try some of the best aspects of Danish city life through interaction, the visitors were able to experience some of Copenhagen’s best attractions like the city bike, the harbor bath, playground settings, a picnic on the roof garden and the opportunity to see Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. The bike is a popular means of transportation and a national symbol in Denmark, and in China. In recent years however, it has had a very different fate in the both countries. There are 0.83 bicycles per capita in Denmark compared to China’s 0.32 bicycles per capita. While Copenhagen is striving to become the world’s leading bike city, heavy motor traffic is on the rise in Shanghai, where the car has become a symbol of wealth.There are intentions to launch the bike in Shanghai as a symbol of modern lifestyle and sustainable urban development. The pavilion and the entire exhibition can be experienced on city bikes that are free for the guests to use, and the concept of sustainability is reflected in the free bicycles. Riding a bike through an area which is designed like Copenhagen’s streets will not only evoke the real Danish lifestyle, and also promote environmentally friendly concepts. “Denmark is into energy conservation. And the energy consumption in the pavilion is relatively low. Their walls even have holes in it for natural air ventilation!” adds Bramsen.
Both Shanghai and Copenhagen are harbor cities, and the polluting activities in the harbors in Copenhagen have replaced by harbor parks and cultural institutions. As a result, the water has become clean enough to swim in. In the heart of the pavilion, guests will find the Harbor Pool. Children can dabble their feet in the water and thus experience what its like to live in a Danish city where the water in the harbor is clean. The Harbor Pool emits light into the meeting and business event area of the lower floor through a large window. In the middle of the Harbor Pool, the Little Mermaid is sitting exactly as she sits in Copenhagen. The original Mermaid is visiting China as a concrete example of the idea that the Danish pavilion contains real examples of Danish city life. It is the first time for the statue, a Danish national icon and major tourist attraction, to leave Copenhagen. Built in 1913 to honor the famous fairytale character created by Hans Christian Anderson, the Little Mermaid has been sitting on the edge of Copenhagen's harbor since she was built. “It was intended to show China our friendship by bringing over the real thing. It would be wrong to send a copy to China. She has been sitting there [in Denmark] for 97 years. And now she comes out. It’s really her first time to leave the place–ever!” said Bramsen. While The Little Mermaid is in Shanghai, her place in Langeline will be occupied by an artwork created by internationally recognized Chinese Artist Ai Weise, who among other things worked as a consultant on the Bird’s Nest, the incredible Olympic stadium in Beijing.Visitors can also bring their children to play in an open square or enjoy a fun picnic on the rooftop garden. Danish Artist Jeppe Hein has designed a social bench going through the inside and outside space of the Danish pavilion, aside from being an artistic and social approach, the white steel bench also functions as a barrier between the pedestrians and the cyclists. In addition, Jeppe Hein will create an interactive fountain where water walls rise and fall in accordance with the movement of passersby. The building is designed as a double spiral with pedestrian and cycle lanes taking you from the ground and through curves up to a level of 12 meters and down again. In this way you can experience the Danish exhibition both inside and outside at two speeds – as calm stroll with time to absorb the surroundings or as a bicycle trip, where the city and city life drift passed.
The sequence of events at the exhibition takes place between two parallel facades – the internal and external. The internal is closed and contains the different functions of the pavilion. The width varies and is defined by the program of the inner space. The external façade is made of perforated steel, and in the evening, the indoor activity of the pavilion would be illuminated for passers-by.The loops are connected in two places. Coming from the inside, the visitors can move out onto the roof, pick up a bike and re-visit the exhibition by bike as the outdoor cycle path slips into the interior and runs along the entire exhibition before exiting onto the Expo grounds. Like a Danish city, the Danish pavilion is best experienced on foot and by bike. This way, the pavilion’s theme “Welfairytales” re-launches the bicycle in Shanghai as a symbol of lifestyle and sustainable urban development. When the Expo closes, the pavilion can be moved to another site in Shanghai and could function as a transfer point for Shanghai’s new city bikes.The pavilion is a monolithic structure in white painted steel, which keeps it cool during the Shanghai summer sun due to its heat-reflecting characteristics. The roof is covered with a light blue surfacing texture, known from Danish cycle paths. Inside, the floor is covered with light epoxy and also features the blue cycle path where the bikes pass through the building.The Danish pavilion at the Shanghai 2010 Expo is designed to give visitors an idea of what it is like to be in a Danish city with cyclists and pedestrians and other integrated sustainable elements such as a harbor bath and a social bench. The Danish pavilion will present new images, new ideas and new knowledge related to how Denmark can create sustainable cities with a high quality of life. “Throughout the design and realization of the Danish pavilion a wide range of disciplines, such as architecture, engineering, lighting design and art installations meld together to create a single structure that plays like a finely tuned instrument” remarked Finn Norkjaer, Project Leader of the Danish pavilion and partner in BIG. Besides, it was seen that moving the original Little Mermaid to China would play a great role in gesturing culture generosity between Denmark and China.