A to Z of Expo Architects: Bjarke Ingels

A to Z of Expo Architects: Bjarke Ingels

Perhaps the youngest architect featuring on this A-Z series, Bjarke Ingels had nevertheless already made a name for himself when at 35 years old, he created, Denmark’s enchanting pavilion for World Expo 2010 Shanghai.

Having created his own architectural office (Bjarke Ingels Group – BIG) in 2006, Ingels was selected, with 2+1 and Arup, to design his home country’s pavilion at the first World Expo to take place in China. The architect and his team took an unconventional yet perceptive approach to the challenge: showcasing the virtues of urban life in Denmark via a 3,000m2 temporary building.

Denmark's Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

The resulting pavilion was remarkable for its stunning simplicity: a single and continuous loop for visitors to take at their own pace, on foot or on bike. Through a continuous geometric knot, the pavilion took visitors outdoors and indoors, uphill and downhill, allowing them on the way to experience a Danish city. In addition to works of Danish art and design, the pavilion featured the iconic Little Mermaid statue, a pool of seawater from Copenhagen’s harbour, and its own hire-bikes and bicycle lanes.

Statue of the Little Mermaid within Denmark's Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai, designed by Bjerke Ingels Group (BIG)

Additionally, the design of the structure itself was optimized to ensure that, through the pool and its spiralling shape, it required no artificial ventilation during Shanghai’s hot summer months.

The popularity of the pavilion boosted Ingels’ growing international reputation and demonstrated to all its visitors that the Expo theme - ‘Better City, Better Life’ – could be addressed through simple, enjoyable, and beautiful solutions.

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