She has been beheaded, painted and blown up, but this time it was not some troublemakers who kidnapped the original Little Mermaid, Copenhagen’s beloved landmark, from her rock. From May til October visitors of the World EXPO in Shanghai will be able to see her elegantly sitting in Denmark’s pavilion designed by Bjarke Ingels Group.
The actual attraction though is the conceptual background of the pavilion. Denmark donated 1001 bikes to the city of Shanghai in order to focus on an ecological urban development of the world’s fast growing mega-cities.
“We weren’t really finding an obvious hook for our pavilion until we started looking at the recent urban development of Shanghai and Copenhagen. This is a photo of Shanghai from 30 years ago: broad boulevards jam packed with bicycles. Only 2 kinds of cars in Shanghai back then: Shanghai no 1 and Shanghai no 2.
With the massive economic boom and urban explosion everybody wants a car, the streets are congested with traffic jams, and the bicycle has even become forbidden in some parts of town.
In the same period of time, Copenhagen has been creating more bicycle lanes and reducing car traffic. The bicycle has become a symbol of a sustainable city and a healthy lifestyle.
We have developed multiple species of bikes to move not only ourselves but our kids and our stuff around as well.
We even have a so-called City Bike that visitors can borrow for free and move around town before they return.
We thought: Why don’t we relaunch the bicycle as something attractive in Shanghai. We’ll donate 1001 City Bikes to Shanghai that they can keep after the Expo.” BIG explains.
“The pavilion is designed as a traffic loop created by the motion of city bikes and pedestrians tied in a knot. Over 300 free city bikes located upon the roofscape, offer the visitors a chance to experience the Danish urban lifestyle which includes biking everywhere. The loops are connected in two places. Coming from the inside, the visitors can move out onto the roof, pick up a bike and re‐visit the exhibition by bike as the outdoor cycle path slips into the interior and runs along the entire exhibition before exiting onto the EXPO grounds. The sequence of events at the exhibition takes place between two parallel facades – the internal and external. The internal is closed and contains different functions of the pavilion. The width varies and is defined by the programme of the inner space. The pavilion’s external façade is made of perforated steel. In the evening time, the façade becomes a sequenced instrument of interactive light illuminating the passers‐by.”
“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. The blue cycle path and white concrete surfaces will further define the arrival and exit areas.”
PS: By the way, while the mermaid is in Shanghai her place in Copenhagen will be replaced by Ai Wei Wei’s multimedia artwork, including a live broadcast of the statue in Shanghai.
to the BIG profile @ Architonic