Denmark Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010 / BIG

© Iwan Baan

The Shanghai Expo 2010 has opened its doors, and we start to see how the pavilions evolved from the previews we saw during design/construction phases at ArchDaily, to become a showcase of the current status of architecture from around the world.

The Denmark Pavilion was one of the first ones we presented you, almost a year ago. The project, designed by BIG with ARUP and 2+1, was interesting not only from an architectural and structural point of view, but also for the danish spirit it represents.

Basically, the pavilion is a loop on which visitors ride around on one of the 1,500 bikes available at the entrance, a chance to experience the Danish urban way. At the center of the pavilion there’s a pool with fresh water from Copenhagen’s harbor (one of the most clean in the world), on which visitors can even swim.

© Iwan Baan

At the center of the pool you will find The Little Mermaid, a statue that has become a symbol for Denmark. And this time, it will be moved temporarily to . In Bjarke Ingels words “it is considerably more resource efficient moving The Little Mermaid to , than moving 1.3 billion Chinese to Copenhagen”.

After the break, more images of the completed pavilion by arch photographer Iwan Baan, including Bjarke Ingels himself riding a bike on the circular loop:

The pavilion is a monolithic structure in white painted steel which keeps it cool during the Shanghai summer sun due to its heat-reflecting characteristics. The roof is covered with a light blue surfacing texture, known from Danish cycle paths. Inside, the floor is covered with light epoxy and also features the blue cycle path where the bikes pass through the building. The steel of the facade is perforated in a pattern that reflects the actual structural stresses that the pavilion is experiencing making it a 1:1 stress test.

“Sustainability is often misunderstood as the neo-protestant notion “that it has to hurt in order to do good”. “You’re not supposed to take long warm showers – because wasting all that water is not good for the environment” or “you’re not supposed to fly on holidays – because airtraffic is bad for the environment”. Gradually we all get the feeling that sustainable life simply is less fun than normal life. If sustainable designs are to become competitive it can not be for purely moral or political reasons – they have to be more attractive and desirable than the non-sustainable alternative. With the Danish Pavilion we have attempted to consolidate a handful of real experiences of how a sustainable city – such as Copenhagen – can in fact increase the quality of life”,

- Bjarke Ingels

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

PROJECT: Danish Pavilion at the EXPO 2010
SIZE: 3.000m2
COLLABORATORS: 2+1, Arup AGU, Arup Shanghai, Tongji Design Institute, Ai Wei Wei, Jeppe Hein, Martin De Thurah, Peter Funch
LOCATION : Shanghai, China

Architect: BIG
Creative Director: Bjarke Ingels
Partner-in-Charge: Finn Norkjaer
Team: Tobias Hjortdahl, Jan Magasanik, Claus Tversted, Henrick Poulsen, Niels Lund Petersen, Kamil Szoltysek, Sonja Reisinger, Anders Ulsted, Jan Borgstrom, Pauline Lavie, Teis Draiby, Daniel Sundlin, Line Gericke, Armen Menendian, Karsten Hammer Hansen, Martin W. Mortensen, Kenneth Sorensen, Jesper Larsen, Anders Tversted

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Denmark Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010 / BIG" 03 May 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 16 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    in general, i think of this as a great idea, especially for the “pavilion” scheme.
    however, it seems to me that the linear space ends up being a little bit boring sometimes -no further resolution has been thought of perhaps?

    the “perfect curve” is also not well constructed, I guess this is due to a fast construction process (I don’t know if in China construction lacks quality most of the time?).

    the structural scheme is fantastic! has anyone found any more information on that?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      true what takes 4 years in Europe to finish the construction takes only 1 years in China, and what lasts 400 years in Europe lasts 10 years or alike in China.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        well, if it’s meant to last 6 months it’s ok I guess…
        I still think all those neat curves in paper suck in real life, not neat at all… definitely a construction problem.

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Thanks, n 400 yrs back before probably aliens could construct a building project such like St. Peter’s in 4 yrs?

        St Peter 1506-1626; Forbidden City 1406-1420.

        Others, building conservation policy difference? :-)

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    looks more Japanese super future then danish…
    so whats the taking the place of the mermaid back in cph ?
    also i thought a rasterized image of the city was going to be on the facade ?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Chinese artist/provocateur Ai Wei Wei has designed a video installation that is in the harbor.

      I haven’t seen it…but i’m assuming that after his detention and beating by Sichuan “thugs” he’s probably not being too confrontational with it.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    great, great, great pavilion. to me, is by far the best, but …

    i think it looks better in the renderings and diagrams, as opposed to the finished building. i’ve lost something in the images.

    i think that the facade holes perhaps may not have the same impact than in the renders.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    BIG不负众望,丹麦馆的建成效果非常惊艳,远远超出效果图的表现。手头有一本Bjarke ingels的著作《YES IS MORE》,来一起看看他怎样用建筑连环画的形式对这个建筑进行解说。

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    wow ,whiter & brighter than i thought.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    It has nice moments but it has way too much white and no nice details, looks like the physical models he always presents just got scale in size but not in details. In addition the skin looks dull. It sounds nice that “the steel of the facade is perforated in a pattern that reflects the actual structural stresses” but the result is not that impressive or stunning. I assume the perforations with the skyline of the city didn’t work? Overall I do like it because of the concept, but the final product is just hard to digest after seeing the renders and diagrams earlier. If you get to see images of the construction process they are great by the way. Thanks for the images AD

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    A nice tribute to Siza and his project in S.Paulo, fundação Iberê Camargo. But this is the good thing in architecture, references and RE-Invention.
    Nice project!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Tribute to Siza, really??? Come on…
      Ah, and Ibere Camargo is from Porto Alegre, not S. Paulo!

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    you people are strange… please explain what’s so great about this pavilion? i would rate the Brazilian pavilion of superior quality than this pedestrian attempt to build a diagram…. it exposes how rubbish the whole idea really was in the first place….

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Is this a fetishism, that we want building to look like renderings? in that sense architecture is all about the image?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      the renderings are supposed to show how the architecture will look like. I don´t understand what is wrong about a building that looks like it was meant to and, also, especially this project (as well as the most of BIG projects) is not only about the image, but about the idea. And find the schematic look fresh and playful.

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      I beleave that renders are part of the analysis. If in the first step of designing you had an image and it remained the same, that means that you wasn’t working with the project enough. All projects should change when you start working more detail it’s part of the process. what about models? should they show final result, or analyse the idea and help to develop it? I beleave that only commercial developers can make renders in “how it will be” style.
      sorry for my english

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    the mermaid looks a little bit out of place. but i mean of course, cause it is, but still it looks just a bit weird.

    but i’m guessing the pavilion is still partly unfinished since its all white and everything.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I did like the idea, but now that its build it does dissapoint me. So many handrails, facade isn’t good, its a bit bouring that the walkpath inside and on the roof is the same, not surprising to enter… the statue isn’t interesting, I lived 6 years in brussels before i saw “manneke pis”. Anyway, Uk pavilion is the best

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    why is anyone asking how it reflects denmark?
    sure it’s a new aesthetic, but are they supposed to be building vernacular?

    The entire building is about denmark because of the focus on the bikes, the idea that you ride to other pavilions on your danish bike (which is a big part of danish life). And then you have the mermaid and the water,

    id say it reflects its own culture better than any pavilion i’ve seen. I like the british pavilion, but how does it reflect british culture? its hairy?

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Yeah Ryan, you seem to be the only person who gets the idea! It’s all about cycling and the mermaid!

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Very impressive job.
    Looks even better than in presentation.
    Well done Bjarke!

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like mermaid, and the scale I think is corect, cause it shows real size. First time when I visited Copenhagen, I was walking near water and hoping to see that sculpture. But when I finaly reached her, I was shocked how small she is. That tiny sculpture in the big, white, strange space responds to my impresion, and how fragile it looks… nice

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Regardless about the brickwork – which I don’t agree would make this project better – I do think that it feels a bit too plastic – seemingly created in all one material. Expediency?

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I wish I am Iwan Baan!! he is traveling across the globe after such incredible buildings.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The little mermaid’s new temp home, quiet and shining like a mirror, takes me back into a childhood’s dream;
    The spiral bike lane – humble, green, and beautiful – leads me to the lovely Danish land;
    The gently curved design with white and blue tone, penetrating time and space, bridges me into the future.
    This pavilion is the one i like the most.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Isn’t it just another version of Olafur Eliasson and Kjetl Thorsen’s Serpentine Pavillion from a couple of years ago? Except not as interesting.

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