SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2010 > EXPO 2010

Over 1,000 square meters of architectural glasses, several hundred lighting elements, 9,000 LEDs floating inside specialized glass and a 383-square meter solar façade – this is SCHOTT’s contribution to the architecture and exhibition of the German Pavilion. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Living better – A City in Balance


”balancity” – the largest pavilion that Germany has ever had built for an EXPO – sets architectural and design standards with its balanced approach.


Bernd Müller

The visitor finds himself surrounded by a sea of city noises. A moving walkway takes him into the depths of a tunnel illuminated by blue light. Thousands of tiny lamps blink inside a long glass wall on the right. The pattern is designed to look like a public transportation system. The lamps also spell out the word ”balancity” in Chinese characters.

This tunnel represents the entrance area to the exhibition inside the German Pavilion at EXPO 2010 in Shanghai that was designed by Milla & Partner, and it prepares the visitor for the Pavilion’s message: ”balancity” – a term created by combining the words ”Balance” and ”City” that stands for a city that is in balance when it comes to renewal and preservation, innovation and tradition, urbanity and nature, society and its individuals. Balance is also the underlying theme behind the ideas for the German Pavilion and is reflected in both the exhibit from Milla & Partner and the architecture of Schmidhuber + Kaindl. Already from afar, one can see the building sculpture that consists of four main structures that, in themselves, look as if they are about to tip over. In an ensemble, however, these structures become quite stable and symbolize the play between the forces of carrying and burdening, leaning and supporting. At the same time, the entire complex blends in harmoniously with the landscape. The structures appear to float over the top of the terrace area like umbrellas that offer shade and shelter from rain.
Fiber optic technology from SCHOTT is explained inside three boxes and thus becomes an exhibit of its own. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
During their tour through the Pavilion, visitors move forward on escalators, moving walkways or by foot – they will pass through the polygonal shaped Planning Office. Ideas on innovative and sustainable urban development from Germany are presented here. In the Depot, on the other hand, visitors get to see high-tech developments and innovations from Germany inside what resembles a high bay warehouse. The contrast of the two spaces could hardly be any greater, however. The boxes of the warehouse are aligned in the Depot in a strict geometric manner.
(On top):Innovative design products that make life in the city more enjoyable can be found inside 90 high-bay storage boxes inside the Depot. (Below): Innovations, products and techniques from Germany are presented inside the Factory. These include the Zerodur® glass-ceramic that is used as a mirror substrate material in astronomical telescopes. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
Illuminating both rooms proved to be a challenge. Depending on the height of the warehouse and the type of exhibit, the boxes are illuminated in different ways. No light at all was used for 30 of the boxes inside the Depot, while the remaining 60 were equipped with lighting solutions from SCHOTT. These include LED, halogen and discharge lamps in combination with various light emission techniques, like fiber optics, lighting strips and spotlights. In addition to contributing the functional lighting for the boxes and for setting accents, SCHOTT provided special color and effect glasses for use in the building, including the anti-reflective glass Amiran®. Many of these glass and lighting solutions have never been seen before in China.

Ceran® glass-ceramic cooktop panels, on the other hand, are better known in Chinese households. In 2002, a plant that manufactures Ceran® cooktop panels was even built on Chinese soil in Suzhou. Inside the Depot, visitors are given the oppor­tunity to cook a virtual German or Chinese meal on a Ceran® cooktop panel at an interactive station. Although it is not quite as well known, Zerodur® glass-ceramic is just as unique and can be seen and experienced inside the Factory. This material has a coefficient of thermal expansion close to zero. For this reason, it is particularly well-suited for use in the large mirror telescopes common to astronomy. Still other German innovations can be seen inside the factory, for instance receivers for solar thermal power plants and solutions in the area of photovoltaics that are explained by movies, which SCHOTT helped to produce, that are shown at the interactive scanner stations.
The solar façade of the EXPO Pavillion with 383 square meters of ASI® Thru ­photovoltaic modules from SCHOTT converts sunlight into electricity, yet allows people to look through it and 10 percent incident light to pass through. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
From May 1 through October 30, 70 million visitors are expected to come to the 5.28 square kilometer grounds. But not all of them will have the chance to pay a visit to ”balancity”. Therefore, the architects decided to have one of the exhibits displayed outside: the solar façade that consists of 383 square meters of ASI® Thru photovoltaic modules. These thin-film modules convert sunlight into electricity. In addition to generating electricity, the solar modules remain transparent and thus allow for about percent daylight to enter the room in “balancity”.

The solar façade is embedded in a base that looks like a model of the earth’s layers. By creating the link between nature and technology, the theme of the Pavilion is picked up once again. Instead of the raw material coal that one would expect to find in one of the layers, silicon in refined form as solar cells takes over this function and symbolizes the changeover to sustainable power generation. According to experts, multifunctional glass panes that serve as partitions, projection surfaces and energy generators that interlock in a clever manner are certain to play a more important role in architecture in the future. The glass wall inside the Tunnel is a good example. It serves as a room boundary, decoration and lighting all at once. Here, the ”LightPoints” appear to be floating inside glass because their power is supplied by invisible conductor paths that are applied to the glass using a special coating technique.
Warm reunion at the EXPO: Germany’s former Federal President Horst Köhler (left) and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Udo Ungeheuer (right), Chairman of the Board of Management of SCHOTT AG, on ­German National Day. In the middle: Dietmar Schmitz, Commissioner General of the ­German Pavillion. Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell
Further examples: the architects created a conference table that is equipped with a beamer for the VIP area located at the center of ”balancity”. An anti-reflective pane of glass that can be used as a projection surface was developed together with SCHOTT. The toilets in the VIP area are made of shimmering black glass. Everything is completely black, even the water faucets. At the end of their tour, visitors can look forward to seeing a spectacular show inside the ”Energy Source”. A huge pendulum that features a ball three meters in diameter swings from the ceiling. The audience can set the pendulum in motion by making noise. The energy that this creates reflects off of the walls and ceiling to produce an exciting light choreography. Images, colors and shapes – impulses from Germany that all relate to the theme of the EXPO, ”Better City, Better Life”, are shown on the ball that features 400,000 LEDs. This truly fascinating expe­rience finally marks the end of the tour of the German ­Pavilion. The Federal Republic of Germany’s participation in the EXPO 2010, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, was organized by Koelnmesse Inter­national as the execution company, and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Pavillon Shanghai GbR (ARGE), a partner-ship formed by Schmidhuber + Kaindl GmbH from Munich ­(Architecture and General Planning), Milla & Partner GmbH from Stuttgart (Exhibition and Media Design), as well as Nüssli (Germany) from Roth (Execution and Project Management), the company that was responsible for realizing it.