Danish Pavilion Shanghai Expo


Danish Pavilion Shanghai Expo




Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority




3,000 / 32,292



BIG’s Danish Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo in 2010 was a whole new take on sustainability: Hedonistic Sustainability which increases human enjoyment as opposed to the protestant idea of sacrificing life quality to be sustainable.


Through real-life examples where sustainable cities and buildings can increase the quality of life, The Danish pavilion at EXPO 2010, gave its visitors the opportunity to try some of the best aspects of Danish city life – the city bike, the harbor bath, playground settings, a picnic on the roof garden and the opportunity to see the real Little Mermaid by H.C Andersen.

Conceived as a Danish street-scape complete with the blue bicycle lanes of Copenhagen, a city where 40% of the citizens commute by bike, over 300 free city bikes offered the visitors a chance to experience the Danish urban lifestyle which includes biking everywhere.


The loops were connected in two places: coming from the inside, the visitors could move out onto the roof, pick up a bike and re‐visit the exhibition by bike as the outdoor cycle path slipped into the interior and ran along the entire exhibition before exiting onto the EXPO grounds.

Structurally, the pavilion was a giant self-supporting tubular steel truss, similar to the hull of a steel ship. The external façade structure was the buildings most efficient element. The perforation holes let in daylight and created natural ventilation. It was the only pavilion out of 200+ that did not use mechanical cooling. Due to the structural performance of the truss, the degree of perforation varied with the structural stress along the façade.

The monolithic structure in white painted steel kept the pavilion cool during the Shanghai summer sun due to its heat‐reflecting characteristics.

Sitting in the harbor pool at the centre of the pavilion was the real Little Mermaid from the harbor of Copenhagen. As one of three of H.C. Andersen’s fables, who is affectionally known in China as An Tung Shung, and read by every child in China, this was seen as a gesture of cultural generosity between Denmark and China.


Other artists include Jeppe Hein from Denmark, who designed a ‘social bench’ that ran alongside the bicycle lane and adapted to its environment elastically by incorporating different functions. The works of filmmaker Martin De Thurah and photographer Peter Funch were also included in the exhibition areas.


While the mermaid was in Shanghai her place in Copenhagen was replaced by Ai Wei Wei’s live broadcast of the statue in Shanghai – the only uncensored video feed from China.

"Throughout the design and realization of the Danish Pavilion a wide range of disciplines, from architecture and engineering to lighting design, art installations and gastronomy came together to create a single structure that played like a finely tuned instrument."

Finn Norkjaer — Partner, BIG

The oasis at the heart of the pavilion with Danish harbor water and the Little Mermaid invited visitors to experience how clean and cold the Danish harbor water is.

Like a Danish city, the Danish pavilion was best experienced on foot and by bike. The exhibition could be experienced in two speeds, as a calm stroll with time to absorb the surroundings and as a dynamic bicycle trip, where the city and city life rush past. This way, the pavilion’s theme Welfairytales (Welfare + Fairytales) re‐launched the bicycle in Shanghai as a symbol of lifestyle and sustainable urban development.



In the evening time, the indoor activity of the pavilion was illuminated for passers-by. Every single hole in the facade was equipped with a LED light source enabling both the regulation of light inside the pavilion and the illumination of the outside surface in the darker hours of the day.

Bjarke Ingels Finn Nørkjær Daniel Sundlin Catherine Huang Pauline Lavie-Luong Annette Jensen Armen Menendian Jan Magasanik Tobias Hjortdal Tommy Bjørnstrup Anders Ulsted Claus Tversted Henrick Poulsen Jan Borgstrøm Kamil Szoltysek Ken Aoki Kenneth Sørensen Martin Weis Mortensen Niels Damsgaard Niels Lund Petersen Teis Draiby Sonja Reisinger Line Gericke Jesper Larsen


Detail Award Special Prize for Steel, 2011

Exhibitor Magazine Award for Best Exterior Design, 2010


Arup AGU