On a recent visit to China, I had an opportunity to visit the Shanghai Expo. The expo is the latest in a series of World Fairs which have been happening every few years since 1851. The events are opportunities for countries to exhibit on a world stage in the hope of generating business for their economy, and can be incredibly lucrative – the Dutch pavilion for Expo 2000 is estimated to have generated €350m for the Dutch economy. The upshot of which is that many countries are willing to pull out the architectural stops to create pavilions that amaze and astound, much to the benefit of the fairs’ many visitors.
As the Beijing Olympics demonstrated, China doesn’t do things by halves and the Shanghai Expo fills a sprawling 5sqkm site with pavilions ranging from the stunning to the baffling to the mesmeric. As someone who came to design research from an architectural background I felt it my duty to get a little snap-happy for the blog. There are many other, much better photographs out there on the Interweb, but these below might give you a feel of the real experience of walking around the site. You’ll just have to imagine the insane humidity and vast crowds…