Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer known for installations and products, is embarking on his most substantial architectural work to date. On Friday, his conceptual proposal for the U.K. Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 was chosen over concepts by Avery Associates, Draw Architects, John McAslan and Partners, Marks Barfield, and Zaha Hadid Architects. The winning team comprises Heatherwick Studio, designer Casson Mann, structural engineer Adams Kara Taylor, and technology engineer Atelier Ten.
The program for the “Pavilion of Ideas,” in Shanghai, encompasses 4,300 square feet of auditorium, exhibition, cafe, retail, and reception spaces. Grass-covered ramparts will flank its marshmallow-like main volume, in which so-called “cilia” will protrude from an amorphous enclosure and sway in the wind. These 16-foot-long spines, which might be made of either bamboo or aluminum, will terminate in programmable lights that can project images, colors, and messages over the entirety of the facade. Presentations within the pavilion can be integrated with messages and images running along its exterior, and visitors can use real-time interactive technology to art-direct the pavilion’s skin. According to Heatherwick Studio’s submission text, the light-tipped cilia mwill also reach into the pavilion, each one forming a pixel on a giant interior screen. More detail about the pavilion and final designs will be presented later this year.
Heatherwick has completed only one architectural work since founding his eponymous studio in 1994: the East Beach Cafe, which opened earlier this year in the British seaside resort town Littlehampton.
Speaking about the Shanghai pavilion, Lord Digby Jones, Britain’s trade and investment minister, said in a statement: “We were really energized by the uniqueness of the concept and the way it integrated technology with a sensory experience for visitors.” Jones served on the selection jury together with architects Nicholas Grimshaw and David Adjaye.