Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at the Shanghai Expo 2010
A dramatic demonstration of UK creativity, the UK Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 is designed to be different. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, one of the UK’s leading creative talents, the centrepiece of the UK Pavilion is a Seed Cathedral created in conjunction with the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP).
The Pavilion is a striking, visual demonstration of the UK as a creative and innovative nation; exactly as Crystal Palace was in the very first Expo in London in 1851. A world-class example of the UK’s leadership in science and international biodiversity conservation - the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save 25% of the world's wild plant species by 2020.
The Seed Cathedral
Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the Seed Cathedral is formed of 60,000 slender optical strands containing hundreds of seeds. It introduces visitors to the opportunity for change, growth and ideas embodied in seeds and showcases some of the threatened and useful plant species saved for our future in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank.
During the day, the optical strands draw on daylight to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources embedded in each strand make the Seed Cathedral glow.
The Seed Cathedral represents the UK’s commitment, through Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership, to develop creative and innovative plant science and technology solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges affecting the world’s future – food security, sustainable energy, loss of biodiversity and climate change.
There is enormous potential for innovation and discovery held in the rich seed collection at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. From new medicines and materials to construction techniques, communication systems and sustainable energy.
Heatherwick Studio - Pavilion design
Thomas Heatherwick is one of the UK’s leading creative talents. Since establishing his studio in 1994 Heatherwick and his colleagues have refused to be categorised within traditional boundaries and their work extends across art, architecture, product design and beyond.
The UK Pavilion that Heatherwick designed is a striking, visual demonstration of the UK as a creative and innovative nation. The Pavilion story is a collaborative effort between UK creative talent, scientists and botanists and displays innovation at every level.
Explore the star plants
Plant species incorporated into the Seed Cathedral design include those that are used for food and medicines or economically such as sacred lotus, garlic chives, star anise, bitter gourd, maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba), soy bean and rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis).
Other plant species that feature in the Seed Cathedral have potential as a source of sustainable energy, such as the castor oil plant and physic nut. Another group play a vital role in providing important ecosystem services, such as clean air and water. These include alfalfa, maize and sunflower.
Seed Cathedral - Star plants
About the UK Pavilion
The UK Pavilion takes visitors on an experience reflective of a visit to a UK public park – it is an ‘open space’, there is no roof, people can sit, relax and take in a performance; or they can choose to walk through a series of themed walkways and visit the magnificent Seed Cathedral, created in conjunction with Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership.
The UK, with its millions of gardens, thousands of public parks and garden squares, has pioneered the integration of nature into cities as a way of making them healthier places in which to live and work. The UK Pavilion encourages visitors to look at the role of nature and seeds in the present and the future, and wonder whether they could be used to solve the current social, economic and environmental challenges of our cities.