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China Pavilion 'Watershed of Chinese architecture'
2010/08/20

The design of the China Pavilion fully satisfied the public expectations and could be viewed as a watershed of architecture in China, according to the pavilion's chief designer.

Calling it one of his best works, He Jingtang, dean of the architecture design institute under the South China University of Technology, said Expo 2010 Shanghai's top attraction successfully combines traditional Chinese cultures and modern styles.

"In the past, we were more inclined to imitating foreign (designs)," He told China Daily in an exclusive interview. "The pavilion reflects the collective wisdom of Chinese architects. We have received positive feedback from the public."

The 69-meter-high China Pavilion, which will remain a permanent fixture after the six-month event draws to a close, is one of the largest and most important buildings showcasing the host country's economic power.

Known as the "Crown of the East", He's design was selected from more than 300 entries from Chinese architects across the world, competing to serve as China's public face at the extravagant fair.

The 1.5-billion-yuan ($220 million) pavilion sports a distinctive square roof made of traditional dougong, or brackets, which dates back more than 2,000 years.

The bracket design embroiled the pavilion in a an accusation of plagiarism after it was labeled a copy of a Japanese pavilion designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando for the 1992 Seville Expo in Spain.

He refuted the accusation, saying he and his team had never seen the Japanese building, which was demolished after the 1992 fair.

Besides, there are major differences in the two pavilions in terms of size, measurements, function and cultural inspiration, the architect insisted.

"Every element used in the China Pavilion has its Chinese origin," He said. "It's an abstract expression of China's 5,000 years of history and the culture of 56 ethnic groups."

People can recognize the Chinese architecture at first glance, He said. "What we architects do is learn from our counterparts on how to draw inspiration from the local culture and blend in our designs."

In that respect, He said, the pavilions of Spain, Italy, Germany, France, UAE and UK are good examples.

Especially impressive is the UK pavilion, formed from 60,000 slender, transparent rods, each of which is 7.5 meters long, encasing one or more seeds at its tip, He said.

Source:China Daily, August 19, 2010

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