by Darrell Nelson

‘Better City, Better Life’ is the theme for the 2010 Shanghai Expo, which kicked off on May 1 with five zones spanning over five square kilometers and hoping to attract 70 million people to see the displays of exhibitors from over 200 countries. It is no surprise then that ‘sustainability’ is one of the major themes on show at each pavilion, and as ever with Expo shows, countries are keen to show off some of the newest, most innovative and thought provoking designs.

Japan Pavilion

Japan Pavilion:

Living, Breathing Pavilion This year’s Expo sees Japan’s largest expo pavilion to date covering an area of 6,000 square meters, making it one of the largest on show. The design aims to “highlight the role of advanced ecological technology in helping humans achieve a more comfortable life and confidence in the future.” Resembling a human heart, it is divided into three sections: past, present and future. Solar energy and a double layer membrane that filters sunshine, along with sophisticated energy-saving technologies on display, look at bringing home the message that “technology can better our lives.” Of course, this being the Japan pavilion, it wouldn’t be complete without roaming robots whose main aim is to inspire awe.

Seed Cathedral by Thomas Heatherwick

Seed Cathedral by Thomas HeatherwickPhotos courtesy of Design Boom

British Pavilion

British Pavilion:

Seed Cathedral One of the most striking and amazing designs at the Expo, the British pavilion is made up of over 60,000 fiber-optic rods housing seeds at the ends of each one on the inside of the pavilion. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the 20 meter-high cube aims to “highlight how biological diversity has influenced and improved people’s lives.” The rods draw in natural light to illuminate the interior, and sit on a site resembling an unfolded piece of paper.

Expo Axis:

Home of the Sunshine This is the largest landscape line within the site, and incorporates the bulk of new ‘green’ technologies. The title refers to the six ‘sun valleys’ at the entrance, which have been designed to naturally light the underground areas which house a variety of flora and fauna, creating a lush and vibrant natural valley feel.

Canada PavilionPhoto courtesy of Beijing Today

Canada Pavilion

Canada Pavilion:

The Rain Harvester Another one of the bigger pavilions, the Canada pavilion follows the theme ‘The Living City: Inclusive, Sustainable, Creative.’ The exterior is covered in plants, and incorporates drainage channels which collect rainwater that is then used inside the pavilion. Since this system meets a high percentage of the pavilion’s water demands, it aims to be a good showcase of using the natural to save energy. Cirque du Soleil, which will be performing throughout the expo, also had a hand in designing the impressive wooden structure.

Expo Center:

Green and Intelligent The hub of the expo site is the first ever large-scale public building to gain the LEED certificate. The Expo Center holds a full glass curtain wall system of about 60,000 square meters, allowing natural lighting to illuminate the interior exhibition rooms and centers. Water conservation has been a major highlight with the design of this building, right down to permeable pavements on roads, squares and parking areas that allow rainwater to filter through. The roof houses a huge area of solar cells, which will address a large percentage of the electricity demands, as well as water heating. After initial assessments the Expo Center came out as a green building of the future with an energy conservation rate of 62.8 percent.

External Link:
Shanghai Expo 2010