Tuesday, 29 Jun 2010
Exterior view of the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo
Published: Tuesday, 29 June 2010
UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo wins prestigious RIBA architecture award
The UK Pavilion at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, designed by Heatherwick Studio, has won the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) prestigious RIBA Lubetkin Prize.
Speaking at the award dinner on 29 June 2010, Sir Andrew Cahn said:
“It’s a huge pleasure to be here for the award to Thomas Heatherwick of the prestigious RIBA Lubetkin prize. Thomas has asked me to say a few words, as the client for the project in the Foreign Office.
“What was the clients’ brief? We wanted to change perceptions of Britain amongst the coming generation of Chinese; away from their old image of us, as a land of swirling fog and cobblestones, old buildings and old attitudes. We wanted them to understand contemporary Britain, the home of creative industries and artistic talent.
“We certainly got what we asked for. We had a competition. The jury chose Thomas Heatherwick’s extraordinary design. It was no contest in terms of architectural excitement.
“But there was an issue for us; because we knew it was risky. Could it be built? Would costs explode? Would it be attacked as ‘all show and no content’? Would the Chinese even like it?
“We took the risk, which we reduced by having advisors like Sir John Sorrell and Sir Mark Jones. We put effective project discipline in place, led by Simon Featherstone, the director of the project. But it still felt as if we were walking on the wild side.
“Working with Thomas and Katerina turned out to be a great experience. I won’t pretend that there were no tensions. Of course there were. But they turned out to be creative ones.
“I want to pay tribute to Thomas’ inventiveness and vision. He manages to be able to dream and to be a practical man at the same time.
“And the Chinese do like our pavilion; they really do. They have nicknamed it "Pu-gong-ying" - the dandelion clock. They have taken it to heart as the iconic image of the Expo.
“Our Pavilion has been receiving over 50,000 visitors a day. Already more than two million people have been amazed by the interior of the Seed Cathedral, others have used the wrapping paper for its intended purpose - to relax in the middle of one of the world's busiest urban spaces, captivated by the British Council's street entertainment. Tens of millions more have seen it online after an enormously successful digital campaign.
“And it is known around the world. Over 30 per cent of all the stories about the Expo have a picture or a reference to our Pavilion, more than any other nation’s. So the UK's reputation around the world has been burnished by the pavilion. How about that for meeting the client's wishes?
And the end of the story?
“At some stage, the building will be dismantled. The acrylic rods, each with its seed from Kew Gardens' partner, Kunming Botanic Gardens, will be given out to schools across China, to keep alive the memory of this wonderful building.
“The Foreign Office is proud to have been responsible for the realisation of this remarkable project. Congratulations to Thomas, to Katerina and the whole Heatherwick team.”