Anchored around the theme of “Better City, Better Life,” the 2010 Shanghai Expo was the largest World Expo to date. The tent-like structure covering the grounds measures a massive 1,000 meters long and 100 meters wide, and it reaches all the way down to the Huangpu River. Partially due to its immense size, SBA’s pavilion blurs the lines between inside and outside. The high funnel vaulting of the membrane roof and open sides creates the illusion of being outside, however the canopy protects visitors from the elements. SBA constructed green areas inside and outside of the pavilion, modernizing idea of public landscaping by combining it with architectural elements.
The membrane roof is supported by six funnel-shaped frames made from steel and glass. The funnels act as solar siphons, directing natural light into the lower levels of the pavilion. The funicular support pillars also aid with natural air flow, circulating the breeze around the space. The membrane itself is lightweight, and it uses less material than a traditional building of its size. SBA has previously used the same structural elements when building geodesic domes.
In the evening, the criss-cross structure of the funnels are illuminated with color-changing lights that bring the structure to life and reflect off the pool beside it. SBA’s pavilion, initially intended for the World Expo, has transformed a quarter of Shanghai into a new urban center.