The Chartered Institute of Building for the first time in its 187 year history held its AGM, Board of Trustees and Members Forum meetings outside of the UK. In addition to the working meetings, the two highlights of a busy week were the International Construction Conference focused on sustainability and ‘zero carbon’ construction and a visit to World Expo 2010.
The business part of the week was centred in the impressive J.W. Marriott hotel and the adjacent Grand State Theatre. Given some time to reflect on these experiences, I intend writing a couple of posts focusing on some of the ideas and observations from the meetings and conference.
I want to focus this post on an incredible experience from World Expo. Lynda has described the size and intensity of the Expo in her post World Expo Shanghai 2010. And whilst the China Pavilion undoubtedly had the longest queues, another ‘long queue’ pavilion is the remarkable British ‘dandelion’. The design concept is that of a ‘gift’ to the Chinese people surrounded by its wrapping paper.
The wonderful fuzzy effect on the outside is created by 60,686 hand crafted acrylic rods, each 7 meters long which allow light into the inside of a 20 meter plywood cube.
Remarkably each rod has between 1 and 10 seeds embedded in the end representing Chinese plant species that are growing in the UK.
The effect outside is fascinating, inside it is simply mind blowing. I have never experienced anything quite like this.
At one level the display is totally useless, at another the juxtaposition of 60,686 individually hand crafted rods focusing on plant seeds to the overall scale of the Expo simply has to be experienced. Judging from the fact over 1 million people a month are queuing for hours for the experience, I feel the UK designers have achieved their objective of raising the UK’s profile at all levels of Chinese society.
At the moment, plans are to demolish the pavilion in October and to distribute the section of each rod holding the seeds to schools and other institutions. I hope this changes and the ‘cube’ can be found a home intact somewhere in the city for future generations to experience.