PSFK Visits The UK Pavilion At The Shanghai Expo

A review and over 40 photos of our visit to the British experience in China.

The Seed Cathedral, which is the centerpiece of the UK Pavilion, is covered with 60,000 crystalline spines. The outer end of these spines are tipped with lights that send light into the interior during the day and make the exterior glow during the night. Inside the tips of the spines contained seeds from the Millennium Seed Bank Project.

For PSFK, the UK Pavilion was the most moving experience of the entire Shanghai Expo 2010. While most of the other pavilions were ovcr-sized advertisements for travel or trade between China and those countries; the UK pavilion offered a moments of delight. The sight of the outside of what some cool a dandelion looking pavilion may have been jaw dropping but it was the presentation inside the cathedral that brought us innocent joy as we realized that we were surrounded by maybe a hundred thousand seeds preserved for our children.

UK Pavilion interior

In some ways the unique approach also demonstrated how countries like the UK can compete in a world where everything can be reproduced anywhere. What the British showed is that they could lead through creativity. Sure, maybe there are architects from other countries who could create equally joyful experiences, but no other country chose those designers. Instead, they chose safe options that more or less was the same approach as everyone else – just with different skin. The creators of the UK pavilion must have realized that the way to set themselves apart was to show unparalleled creativity and lateral thinking.

Piers Fawkes of PSFK at the UK Pavilion

Click through our gallery for more pictures from the UK Pavilion:

UK Pavilion Green Cities - Cardiff

One other aspect to point out was that on the approach ramp to the Seed Cathedral there were several ‘living’ maps of UK cities. The maps aimed to show how the British value the outdoors and have been building in green space into their urban environments for a long time. A sign read:

There is nothing British people like more than enjoying the open air. Contact with the natural environment is important to us. And our unpredictable climate has taught us to appreciate nature whenever we get the chance.

We built our cities low to let the sunshine and breeze into the streets. We created parks so we could escape to nature. Our ‘green and pleasant land’, its climate and wildlife have inspired our writers, artists, explorers and scientists.

We devised numerous sports to play outdoors and we cherish our urban gardens. Even our favorite smells include newly-cut grass and fresh air aftr rainfall.

The bond between the British people and their natural environment is strong and continues to be a vital element in shaping our culture.

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