Danish Pavilion, Expo 2010 Shanghai: More Than a Fairytale

May 17, 2010

As World Expo 2010 opens in Shanghai, an inspiring Danish Pavilion with an equally impressive energy-efficient footprint has already been making news.

Martin Professional and the Centre for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) at Aarhus University, Denmark, in collaboration with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) architects, have designed, developed and installed an exhilarating dynamic façade and auxiliary areas for the Danish Pavilion that has generated a high level of interest as one of the most popular of the 200+ country pavilions.

Living facade
The Pavilion is a spiral-shaped structure that curls the exhibition space in a double loop, with pedestrian and cycling lanes and a central harbor bath as the main features. A color-changing architecture that pulsates with life as art, the media facade gives a new form of expression and experience for the visitor as a communicative and interactive facade.

More than 3500 full-color LED lamps have been installed in holes in the Pavilion’s perforated external walls. The lamps are controlled by day lighting and temperature sensors installed in the Pavilion, which combined with specially developed software create an animated look in interplay with the surroundings and architecture.

“By incorporating dynamic lighting as an integrated part of our surroundings we can vitalize the spaces around us and expand their possibilities so that in addition to being sites for profitable business they are communicative and interactive; in other words, living façades, which fascinate, inspire and inform,” states Leif Orkelbog-Andresen, Martin’s architectural segment market manager who has lived and breathed the project for over a year.

Beyond the facade
There are 25 other areas of the Danish Pavilion which are all illuminated and controlled individually with lighting supplied by Martin Professional, most notably Denmark’s iconic “The Little Mermaid,” which was transported from Copenhagen and sits in the center of the Pavilion’s basin.

There are many other application areas with Martin lighting as well including a social bench, bike ramp, Mermaid Bar, shop, storytelling boxes and more. In fact, Martin has delivered virtually every bulb in the Pavilion.

The Copenhagen-based group of architects responsible for the Pavilion’s design is the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Martin has worked in close cooperation with BIG, one of today’s most respected architectural design firms whose latest designs for skyscrapers and mixed-use projects have garnered well-deserved recognition in the design community.

BIG won a design competition for the Danish Pavilion by relying on its ‘pragmatic utopian’ design values - a balance between the playful and practical approaches to architecture. Experimenting with space without losing sight of the building as a solution to a real-world problem, the Danish Pavilion is an excellent example of sustainability increasing the quality of life and putting fun back into sustainable architecture in a socially, economically and environmentally responsible way.

Light and architecture - total integration
“The collaboration with Martin Professional has been unique from the very start,” comments Finn Nørkjær, partner in BIG. “The Danish Pavilion is not a building in the normal sense of the word. It has been necessary to think in completely new directions, especially in regards to the testing of light because common precepts about light could not be used here.

“One of the fundamental ideas of light is that it is the individual parts of a building that are illuminated. It is not a building that you subsequently put lights in. This means there is a very special interweaving of light and architecture. Light is integrated into all areas of our buildings – in the facade, in the ceiling, on the bench, walls and terrain. Therefore, light cannot be stripped out of the building without physically taking part of the building with it.

“This total integration can only be realized through close cooperation, great enthusiasm and vast technical knowledge. We’ve gotten that from Martin 100% so that the Pavilion today is seen as perhaps the Expo's most beautiful with the best integrated lighting solution.”

Danish life - sustainability
Expo 2010 is being held under the theme “Better City, Better Life” and the Danish Pavilion reflects the theme well with a combination of sustainability, simplicity and beauty. The theme of the Danish Pavilion is Welfairytales, focusing on the idea of a welfare state with sustainable city life with clean technologies.

Virtually every area of the Pavilion incorporates energy-efficient LED light sources and the entire system is run from a single touchscreen lighting controller (more than 20000 DMX channels on 41 DMX universes). The Pavilion runs in automatic mode, e.g., light settings change on their own from daylight through dusk to evening. Actual lighting conditions influence the system in real-time via the light sensors installed around the Pavilion. A blue sky produces a different setting than a cloudy day for example, so no matter what the weather the lighting is always perfectly adjusted to the surroundings.

Key personnel are able to control individual settings, e.g., for events outside normal operating hours, test runs, fixture cleaning and other proactive maintenance. The lighting system is even employed outside opening hours as the Pavilion’s cleaning personnel use it when they go about their work. For monitoring and immediate on-line support, the lighting system can be accessed from Martin’s headquarter office in Denmark through a secure network (e.g., a birdhouse located in a tree just outside the Pavilion houses a webcam for online monitoring of the façade.)

The Pavilion, created for the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority and voted the most beautiful foreign country pavilion in an online survey, is an opportunity for visitors to experience some of the best elements of Danish city life, sustainable elements that lead to a higher quality of life such as a harbor pool with clean water in which visitors can freely jump in if they choose. The Pavilion has also relaunched the bike in Shanghai as a symbol of modern lifestyle and sustainable urban development. Visitors can take city bikes for a ride around the Pavilion at their own speed, stopping for a cup of coffee at the Mermaid Bar or jumping into the rooftop fountain.

Creativity and professionalism”
John Hansen, Project Director for the Danish Enterprise and Construction Authority, the client on the project, comments on Martin Professional’s role. “There are really two important things that Martin has brought to the table - creativity and professionalism,” he states. “Martin has given added value to the Danish Expo project by designing and composing an LED lighting system that both enlightens and underlines the architecture of the Pavilion. The outstanding lighting project is a major factor in making the Danish Pavilion appear mythical in the late afternoons and evenings.

“Installation of this very complex project has likewise been impressive. Dealing with a group of professionals with such dedication has been a very positive experience.”

Held every five years, World Expos have a 150-year history as a global non-commercial exhibition of economy, technology and research. Up to 230 countries and international organizations are represented at Expo 2010 with around 70 million visitors expected during the exhibition period. The Expo will run through October 31st.

Equipment used:
More than 3500 high power LED dots
1350 meters of white light LED strips
20 x submersible IP68 LED fixtures
Custom-built video servers

Additional equipment:
FlexDOT S1™
Inground 200™
Exterior 200™
MaxModule Cerebrum™
Magnum 1800™