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Danish Pavilion, Shanghai World Expo, China

Issue 56 August / September 2010 : Architecture : Pavilion

ARCHITECT: Bjarke Ingels Group LIGHTING DESIGN: Martin PICS: Leif Orkelbog-Andresen

Following the Expo’s central theme, ‘Better City, Better Life’, architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) wanted the Danish Pavilion to provide visitors with a truly authentic urban experience.

When we visited the World Exhibition in Zaragoza, we were stunned by the artificial content; state propaganda in paper maché,” says BIG’s founder, Bjarke Ingels.
“The Danish Expo pavilion 2010 is the real deal, and not just endless talking.”

BIG’s solution was to take some of Copenhagen’s best elements and condense them into a single coiled knot of activity. Visitors can take a ride on a free city bike, take a dip in the ‘harbour baths’, picnic on the roof gardens and even visit the iconic Little Mermaid statue, transplanted from its rock in the Danish capital for the duration of the Expo.

The pavilion is designed as a traffic loop created by the motion of city bikes and pedestrians curving around the central ‘harbour’ pool. The loops are connected in two points so, emerging onto the roof, visitors can pick up a bike and re-visit the exhibition on two wheels; the outdoor cycle path slips into the interior and runs along the entire exhibition before exiting onto the Expo grounds.

The pavilion’s external façade is made of perforated steel, designed as a literal representation of the structural stresses in play. In the evening, this becomes a sequence of interactive light, illuminating passers-by. To create an appropriate lighting scheme for the pavilion, BIG worked in close cooperation with Danish manufacturer Martin Professional and the Centre for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) at Aarhus University, Denmark.

More than 3,500 full-colour LED lamps were installed in the holes in the pavilion’s perforated external walls. Daylight and temperature sensors installed around the site feed data into specially developed software, which in turn controls the light LED lamps to produce a dynamic interaction between the pavilion and the surround space.

Martin’s architectural segment market manager, Leif Orkelbog-Andresen, lived and breathed the project for over a year. “By incorporating dynamic lighting as an integrated part of our surroundings we can vitalise the spaces around us and expand their possibilities so that in addition to being sites for profitable business they are communicative and interactive; in other words, living façades, which fascinate, inspire and inform,” he says.

“The collaboration with Martin Professional has been unique from the very start,” comments Finn Nørkjær, a partner at BIG. “The Danish Pavilion is not a building in the normal sense of the word. It has been necessary to think in completely new directions, especially in regards to the testing of light because common precepts about light could not be used here.

“One of the fundamental ideas of light is that it is the individual parts of a building that are illuminated. It is not a building that you subsequently put lights in. This means there is a very special interweaving of light and architecture. Light is integrated into all areas of our buildings – in the facade, in the ceiling, on the bench, walls and terrain. Therefore, light cannot be stripped out of the building without physically taking part of the building with it.”

In addition to the façade, there are another 25 areas, all illuminated and controlled individually with lighting supplied by Martin Professional, including FlexDOT S1s, Inground 200s, Exterior 200s, MaxModule Cerebrums, and Ether2DMX8s.

Virtually every area of the pavilion incorporates energy-efficient LED light sources and the entire system is run from a single touchscreen lighting controller (more than 20000 DMX channels on 41 DMX universes). The pavilion runs in automatic mode so that light settings change from daylight through to evening. Actual lighting conditions influence the system in real-time via the light sensors installed around the pavilion. A blue sky, for example, produces a different setting than a cloudy day, so no matter what the weather the lighting is always perfectly adjusted to the surroundings.

Key personnel are able to control individual settings for events outside normal operating hours, test runs, fixture cleaning and other proactive maintenance. The lighting system is even employed outside opening hours as the pavilion’s cleaning personnel use it when they go about their work. For monitoring and immediate on-line support, the lighting system can be accessed from Martin’s headquarter office in Denmark through a secure network.

The use of LED technology – with its energy efficient credentials – was part of BIGs mission to prove that sustainable, environmentally conscience living need not be a hardship.

“Sustainability is often misunderstood as the neo-protestant notion that ‘it has to hurt in order to do good’,” says BIG founder, Bjarke Ingels. “‘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 air traffic 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 cannot 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.”

Architect Bjarke Ingels cycles around the Danish Pavilion

Time Laps images of the Danish Pavilion

The Danish Pavilion from Shanghai Expo Timelapse Machine on Vimeo.


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