Visual Layers and Visual Structures

The German Chinese Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo Shanghai (by Markus Heinsdorff in collaboration with MUDI) brings together a wide spectrum of materials which evoke age old traditions mixed with modern technology, drawing from both Germany and China. The pavilion concludes a three year campaign of collaborative innovation with the two countries.

Not only does the pavilion merge together a unique set of materials, but it innovates in the way the materials come together. Giant bamboo canes, up to 22cm in diameter, found in southern China were used for the main structure of the pavilion, but are joined together with concrete and steel. The ends of each bamboo column are filled with concrete and a steel connection which slides into a connection piece anchored to the ground. The bamboo beams are also filled with concrete at the ends, but inside a steel I-beam is strung through the whole cane. Each beam ends with a steel connection that is then bolted to a round connector piece that joins it to another beam, similar to a space frame.

The layering of materials in this project brings up an interesting idea of materiality on multiple scales with the scale of the occupant. The structure described is only part of it. An ETFE glazing system surrounds part of this structure, while some bamboo canes extend into the building, creating a space that is inside the building but not quite located within the interior program of the building. The aesthetic appears as the exterior, yet the occupant is inside. The interior program is held up by large laminated bamboo beams, bamboo flooring, and adorned with bent bamboo furniture.

Interstitial Space

Interstitial Space and Laminated Bamboo

The occupant approaches the pavilion with a visual sense of the bamboo canes (a familiar material, but not typically used in this type of application), and glazing system. As the occupant gets closer, the connection at the ground between the bamboo canes, steel and concrete is very well apparent. The interstitial space between the interior space and the skin continues to show the structure mixture of materials, while the interior space surrounds the occupant in bamboo, with ample views out of the glazing and to the structure surrounding. Every material and detail of this building is transparent to the occupant with the exception of the mullions which consist of steel wrapped in laminated bamboo.


Beam Connection

Above Images sourced from MUDI Architects

The follow images are diagrammatic drawings as well as a model exploring the detail of the connection of bamboo, steel, and concrete to the ground.

Model was created with laser cut MDF , chipboard, acrylic glazing, and 3″ PVC tubes wrapped in papyrus paper.    It is built at a scale or 1:8 or 1 1/2″ = 1′

Model was created with laser cut MDF , chipboard, acrylic glazing, and 3″ PVC tubes wrapped in papyrus paper. It is built at a scale or 1:8 or 1 1/2″ = 1′

Ground Connections

Intermediate Steel Connections

Glazing and Mullions (Steel Wrapped in Laminated Bamboo)

Diagram of Concrete and Steel Connections Within Bamboo

Final View


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s