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With the 2010 Shanghai World Expo less than forty days away now, work is quickly being finished on the international pavilions set to grace the city for the expected visitors. Two hundred countries are participating and one of the most interesting contributions is the UK Pavilion designed by Heatherwick Studio out of London. Designed to represent the Expo theme, “Better City, Better Life,” Heatherwick teamed up with the UK Seed Bank to build the Seed Cathedral. The building is made up of 60,000 acrylic rods that encase tens of thousands of seeds, all to promote the UK’s conservation efforts of seeds.

The Pavilion is nearing completion and the 70 million visitors to Shanghai will soon have access to this intriguing pavilion and have a chance to learn about conservation efforts to protect and store seeds. In partnership with the UK’s Kew Millennium Seed Bank, the largest plant conservation project in the world, Heatherwick collected tens of thousands of seeds. A few seeds each are then encapsulated in acrylic rods that project out from the building and can sway gently with the breeze. Seeds came from from the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, Kunming Institute of Botany, The Chinese Academy of Sciences in China, and Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project, and came from seed stocks that were both readily available and plentiful.

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The extraordinary pavilion is a six story high cube, that looks a bit like a dangerous prickly spiked sort of torture device. Up close though, the acrylic rods are much more delicate and beautiful. During the day, the rods will act like fibre optic filaments drawing light from outside into the interior. Then at night, interior lights will work the opposite way through the rods to illuminate the interior. The landscape surrounding the building will look like a piece of unfolded paper that had recently wrapped the entire building.

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Visitors to the pavilion will gain access through a series of walkways surrounded by content that depicts the role of nature in UK cities in the past, present and in the future. Thomas Heatherwick, said about his pavilion, “Our task is to make the UK pavilion stand out. We decided to do this by making one extraordinary object; not recognizable in conventional terms, set in a calm open site. Each visitor will be able to explore both in their own way. Rather than making a straightforward advert for the UK, we want our pavilion to give each person a more profound understanding of the richness of contemporary UK culture.”

Via e-architect

Photo via: The Big Picture and Heatherwick Studios

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