Danish Pavilion designed by BIG architects to exhibit best attractions from Copenhagen

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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In an expo in 2010 at the center of China’s largest city, Shanghai, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) was commissioned to design the Pavilion that would be the be all and end all of the exhibition geared towards showcasing Denmark’s values as a nation.

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BIG architects designed the Pavilion to not only exhibit Denmark’s most important values but also be a medium to showcase, through interaction, some of the Copenhagen’s best attractions. These attractions included the city bike, the harbor bath, the nature playground and an ecological picnic.

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The bike has long been a national symbol associated with both Denmark and China. It is the most vernacular means of transportation for these two countries and showcasing this in Shanghai at the exhibition meant a lot to the Danish and Chinese people. To date,it’s still the most used means of transport in both countries and the architects sought to relaunch the bike as a symbol of lifestyle and sustainable urban development. To achieve this, 1500 bikes were offered to people in the exhibition and in the pavilion during the expo.

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The harbor bath was principally placed at the center of everything in the Pavilion and filled with water transported from the Copenhagen harbor. Visitors were allowed to swim in the water to feel and taste it.

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Back in Denmark, the Little Mermaid sits at the harbor bath and to achieve this in Shanghai, the architects had to transport the Little Mermaid all the way to Shanghai to sit exactly as she does back at the Copenhagen harbor bath.


The Pavilion was designed to naturally sustain itself. The presence of water in the pavilion cooled the air which then followed the outstanding form of the building to move through the entire space.

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The pavilion’s curvilinear form together with the detail facades presented the idea of the ecological picnic creating unpredictable movement patterns to allow for discovery making each step a throb of suspense of what to find next as you move through the exhibition space.

danish pavilion expo 2010 big architects

Project Information
Architects: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels
Project Leader: Finn Nørkjær
Client: Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority
Size: 3,000 sq. meters
Location: Shanghai, China
Status: Completed
Awards: 2011 Detail Award Special Prize for Steel, 2010 Exhibitor Magazine Award (Best Exterior Design)
Photographs: Bjarke Ingels Group

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.