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Prestigious Architecture Prize awarded to the UK Pavilion at Shanghai Expo

30th June 2010

A UK pavilion built for the World Expo in Shanghai has won a prestigious international architecture award. The stunning, six-storey, cube-like structure beat buildings in Ireland and Alaska to win the Royal Institute of British Architects' Lubetkin Prize.

Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the so-called "Seed Cathedral" is pierced by 60,000 transparent acrylic rods that each contain a seed. RIBA president Ruth Reed called it "an outstanding emblem for Britain".

Almost 250 countries and international organisations are showcasing their culture at the World Expo. The Seed Cathedral is one of the visitors’ favourites at the Expo, with 2 million people having been to see it as well as visits from international figures such as Chinese and international politicians, global business leaders and celebrities.

Some 70 million visitors are expected to visit the event, built this year around the theme of sustainable development.

The Seed Cathedral sits in the centre of the UK Pavilion’s site, 20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. During the day, the rods act as optic fibres and draw daylight inwards to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole structure to glow. As the wind moves past, the building and its optic “hairs” gently move to create a dynamic effect.

The seeds have been sourced from China's Kunming Institute of Botany, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership.

Jeremy Browne, Minister for the Expo at the Foreign Office underlined the significance of the prize.

“It is outstanding that the UK Pavilion has won the RIBA Lubetkin Prize. It is an amazing building which has shown the world the modern, creative and innovative face of the UK. I am very pleased to see the Pavilion recognised in this way”, said Browne.

Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the UK Pavilion said it was an honour to represent the UK at the largest ever world Expo.

“From conception to completion, this has been an extraordinary project for the studio and the whole project team. It is an incredible source of pride for everybody involved to have received such a prestigious award.”


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