The UK Pavilion, also known as the ‘Seed Cathedral’ features 60,000 acrylic fibre optic rods that each contain plant seeds at their tips. It was designed by internationally acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick, whose design team won a competition organised by Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), over numerous other prominent firms which include Zaha Hadid, John McAslan + Partners, Marks Barfield Architects, Avery Associates, and DRAW Architects with dcmstudios. Diverting from the conventional approach of promoting a country with the pavilion functioning as an advertisement structure, Heatherwick proposed a more effective concept by creating a design that truly symbolises the UK as one of the world's greenest countries. Indeed, it is a matter of fact that London is the greenest city of its size in the world, and that the UK pioneered the world’s first ever public park and the world’s first major botanical institution, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
The resulting design is an exercise in paradigm shift, and is truly a provocative idea. As architects, we should strive to emulate this example of thinking outside the box and to develop the courage to explore unprecedented ideas. After the Expo, the rods and seeds will be distributed to schools throughout China and the UK.