Shanghai Expo 2010: The Danish Pavilion

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Outside the pavilionThe 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai will be the first registered one in a developing country. Officially known as “Expo Shanghai 2010,” it will last 184 days and provide China an opportunity to show off its remarkable economic growth. The expo will also give foreign nations and companies a chance to further develop business partnerships with China and Chinese companies. This is the eighth in an ongoing series that will look at the upcoming expo, from country pavilions to trade development. In this article, we take a look at the Danish Pavilion.

By Lasse Hounsgaard

SHANGHAI, Dec. 21 – As the whole world tunes in for the World Expo 2010 next year, the statue of the famous Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, the Little Mermaid is set to arrive one month before the beginning of the Expo event to act as the crown jewel of the Danish Pavilion. The pavilion is designed by BIG, well-renowned for its practical but innovative creations.

The monolithic steel structure designed as a double spiral will seem like its lightly touching the ground. It will transport visitors from the entrance up to 12 meters in the air. The spiral structure will encircle the pavilion’s centerpiece, the Little Mermaid in the midst of a pool.

The Little Mermaid was moved from Langelinie, Copenhagen; where it is was one of the top tourist attractions. The statue is a symbol of the well-loved Hans Christian Anderson fairytale of the same name and has been chosen as part of a cultural exchange program between China and Denmark. While the statue is away in China, it will be replaced by artwork from China’s most famous artists.

Inside the Denmark's PavilionThe theme for the pavilion is “welfairytales” and is based on the principle of that experience promotes understanding. Using this concept, the Danish Pavilion sets out to send a clear message that growth and welfare can be attained at the same time and will assure that the audience experience and understand it well.

This message has its roots in the difficulties transitioning economies have when enhancing welfare after attaining wealth. Denmark plans to share its experiences by telling its own welfairytales, in the same manner as Hans Christian Andersen did many years ago. The welfairytales presents Denmark as a family-friendly, nice, natural, beautiful, and active country. Values that are communicated by means of stories about the good life and what Danes love to do in the city.

The pavilion at nightThe exhibition has been handled by the New Carlsberg Foundation and 2+1 ideas Agency, specialized in creating exhibitions and interior design. The Danish exhibition will unfold like a living fairytale book. It will combine art, images, film, words and sound and invites visitors to try out the welfairytales themselves. This will give visitors the chance to experience picnics on the roof, explore the playground, or take an indoor or outdoor bicycle trip. Additionally, Danish artist Jeppe Hein has designed a social bench going through the inside and outside space of the pavilion. Besides being an artistic and social approach, the white steel bench also functions as a barrier between the pedestrians and the cyclists.

The fairytales will encircle around three main topics, namely tales of how Danes live, what Danes love and the future direction of Denmark. The first topic will show how Danes structure their daily life and how to create cities focusing on high quality life and sustainability. The second topic will depict what Danes sees as making life worth living and how urban planning can ensure opportunities for growth and happiness. The final tale will show the vision for a joint Danish and Chinese future, where cooperation within the fields of technology and knowledge can improve life in the cities of the future.

Following the Expo, ties between the two countries are expected to be extended economically, culturally and politically. Currently, Danish companies are performing well in China. Danish exports to China have been increasing steadily over the past years and the number of Danish companies operating in China is growing. In addition to the substantial export of goods from Denmark to China, the export of services (including shipping) is extensive and increasing.

The production rate of Danish companies in China to the local and international market, outsourcing and sourcing of Chinese products are rising as well. This has led to Danish exports to China doubling from 2003 to 2007, and in 2008 alone it has grown by 40 percent, making China Denmark’s 14th largest export market today amounting to DKK32.964 million (US$6.3 million) in export and a combined trade value of DKK44.178 million (US$8.4 million). If Hong Kong and the sales of services (primarily shipping) are also included in the equation, China is Denmark’s 6th most important export market.

Moreover, around 25 percent of China’s foreign trade is transported by shipping vessels owned by Danish shipping companies, showing close ties formed between the two countries. More than 350 Danish enterprises operate in China with over 550 permanent business addresses for firms such as Maersk, B&O, Carlsberg, Grundfos, Danfoss, and Arla.

Denmark and China relations has a long tradition dating back to 1674 when the first exchange of letters between Emperor Kangxi and King Christian V. The present official diplomatic relations were however established back in 1950.

Throughout the history, Danish prime ministers have held good relations with China with heads of state meeting numerous times. Developing and strengthening the bilateral cooperation between Denmark and China is of high priority to the Danish state.

The pavilionIts participation in the Expo will highlight Danish values of openness and transparency, together with the holistic view towards consumerism and growth to go hand in hand with sustainability and social responsibility.

To show its dedication to the Expo, HRH the Crown Prince of Denmark has accepted to chair the National Committee.  The committee will help manage the largest investment Denmark ever have made to an Expo worth DKK 150 million (US$29 million), with half being contributed by the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs and DKK50 million (US$9.6 million) from Realdania, with the rest coming from other committee members.

Be sure to get an insight into the Danish city life at the Expo and experience cycling around the pavilion to see the Little Mermaid, and experience firsthand the fairytales that can make inspire future urban life in China and the rest of the world. On June 29, 2010, Denmark’s national day celebrated with the pavilion.

Further Reading
The complete Shanghai Expo 2010 series