Little Folklore, plenty of Modernism – the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2010

Little Folklore, plenty of Modernism – the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2010

Swiss Pavilion

At Expo 2010 in Shanghai Switzerland has presented itself with a spectacular pavilion and its curtain of intelligent lights.

23 Million awaited the World

Shanghai, due to its 23 million inhabitants one of the largest cities of the People’s Republic of China, was the host of Expo world exhibition May through October 2010. For a period of 184 days all in all 73 million visitors were strolling across the Expo premises and took a look at the pavilions and exhibitions. The Expo’s motto was “Better City, Better Life“ and dealt with the problem of increasing urbanization of the world population and present solution approaches and ideas from all over the world. In a way, the mega city of Shanghai occupied itself with one its own biggest problems.
Among the 246 participating countries there was also the Alpine state of Switzerland. The confederates welcomed their visitors from all over the world at the Swiss pavilion, designed by Buchner Bründler Architekten.

Connecting Town and Country

During a worldwide competition architects could hand in their plans for a Swiss Expo appearance. Eventually, Swiss architecture firm Buchner Bründler Architekten was selected. Their design convinced the jury since it was capable of representing modern Switzerland best. Top-rate performance, innovation and a high quality of life as characteristics of Switzerland were things the design combined with each other in the best possible way in the eyes of the jury.        
Megacities such as Shanghai cannot be found in Switzerland. This is why a partial aspect of the Expo was the topic of the pavilion, something whith a high relevance in Switzerland: Interaction between urban and rural spaces. For this, town and country were combined at the pavilion. On the roof there was a green garden displaying a stylized shape of the country, inside the building a plain urban atmosphere was the dominating factor.

A Thousand intelligent Lights

The probably biggest eye-catcher was the shining curtain from the 20 m high roof to the ground. The aluminum meshwork replaced a conventional façade and was equipped with 11,000 intelligent solar cells. Each cell contained an energy converting unit, a LED light as well as a storage unit, so the gained energy was able to make the cells shine also at night. The cells were prompted to shine through external influences, e.g. they responded to camera flashes. At the same time a microcontroller inside the cells triggered electro-magnetic impulses, which in turn activated the adjacent cells. This way the cells were autonomous, but together created unusual plays of light. The shells of the lights were made of soy bean resin and would have been biodegradable, if not a majority of the cells had been sold as souvenirs after the Expo. Today, they shine in private households.

Aiming high

Another one of the pavilion’s highlights was the cable car running from the exhibition room to the green roof. It connected the theme worlds “city” inside with the “countryside” on the rooftop. Inside roofed cabins the visitors were transported towards the top in spirals, and after ten minutes they were able to enjoy the view across the Expo premises before going down again.          
Nature was also visible inside. TheIMAX-Film “The Alps“ was projected onto a 10 m high screenand made the visitors marvel at an impressive Alp view

The Swiss pavilion connected the topic of “Connecting city and countryside” by means of spectacular ideas. The shining curtain and the cable car definitely attracted visitors. Switzerland took its chance and presented itself to a large audience without romanticizing itself.

Project details


Buchner Bründler AG


Completed in April 2010 - disassembled as Expo pavilion in Nov. 2010


4,000 m²


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benjohnsonccs's picture
benjohnsonccs 18. March 2016 - 5:18

Really amazing! I am so glad to see these fantastic pictures of from the Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2010. I haven’t seen these pictures before. This is a wonderful opportunity for me. Keep sharing such interesting posts on this blog. directv family package

tedglen123's picture
tedglen123 26. April 2016 - 6:26

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