India Pavilion at World Expo 2010

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai with Bamboo Dome

Dr. K M Soni, General Manager, ITPO, New Delhi

In the World expos, countries showcase their culture, tradition and development. Main purpose of the Expos is to bring various countries at a platform to showcase them to the international visitors at large and the host country in particular. World Expos are different from other expositions or exhibitions where the products or services are displayed mainly for commercial purposes. World Expos are held at an interval of five years. World Expo 2010 is being held in Shanghai. In 2005, World Expo was held in Aichi, Japan and before that in Hannover, Germany during 2000. Every World Expo has a theme, around which the countries present their show. The theme of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, China is "Better City, Better life". Sub themes of the Expo are, "blending of diverse cultures in the city, "economic prosperity in the city", "innovation of science and technology in the city", "remodelling of urban communities" and "interaction between urban and rural areas". The Expo is being held between May 1, 2010 and October 31, 2010 i.e. duration of the Expo is six months. World Expo 2010 Shanghai is a mega show which is expected to be visited by more than 70 millions.

About 200 countries and international organisations are participating in this Expo. The Expo 2010 is being held in the waterfront of Huangpu River between Nanpu and Lupu bridges. Whole area has been divided into five zones as A, B, C, D and E. Three types of pavilions have been constructed in the Expo 2010 described as Type I, II and III. Type I pavilions are being designed and constructed by the official participants, Type II being constructed by the organisers and rented to the participants and Type III being the joint pavilions constructed by the organisers. India pavilion is a Type I i.e. being designed and constructed by India.

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai with Bamboo Dome

India pavilion is being constructed on a plot of 4000 sqm (80mx50m) in zone A where China pavilion and pavilions of Asian and Oceanian countries are also located. India pavilion is located near Nepal and Saudi pavilions though China pavilion is also nearby. The pavilion has a theme area of @ 908 sqm and commercial area of @ 593 sqm which is for selling Indian souvenirs/handicrafts and Indian cuisines. It also has the area for services and offices. India Pavilion has been constructed keeping in view the diversity of culture in India and today's message to society for green/sustainable buildings. Total covered area of India Pavilion is 3225.8 sqm and the ground coverage is 2549.3 sqm.

India pavilion building can be divided into three main segments as Entrance vault, Open Plaza and Dome as shown in the plan. Dome is derived from Indian traditional construction, be that of Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh or Christian architecture. The concept itself makes a strong statement of amalgamation of diversity of Indian culture and religions though the dome of the design is derived from Sanchi Stupa as Buddhism has a special relevance to China.

The entry of the Pavilion is planned from the elevated highway side as many visitors will be coming through this highway and also the dome will be clearly visible from there. The Entrance Plaza has carved terracotta panels that tell the ancient Jataka stories about the interdependence of humans and nature. The visitors enter under a vaulted portal with the Tree of Life carving inspired by a stone carving from the Siddi Syed mosque at Ahmedabad.

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai with Bamboo Dome

Central Plaza/courtyard has shops, two restaurants and small amphitheatre where live cultural programmes are planned during the Expo. The stone floor in the courtyard is inspired from the palace of Rampur in Varanasi while columns of the courtyard have been carved considering various column carvings from famous Indian structures. Cultural shows are planned at specified times. The shops will be showing works of artisans from various regions practicing, displaying and selling their wares. Food stalls of cuisine from various regions of India will be available in the restaurants. The mezzanine floor over the bazaar is for displays, a gallery for enjoying the activity below, and as an outdoor restaurant area. As may be seen in the plan, one enters from the gate and small lobby, towards veranda; can go to the restaurants and shops on both the sides or enjoy cultural shows in the amphitheatre where the visitors can sit in the environment of open air theatre. On both sides of the amphitheatre, there are ramps. From the left ramp, one can go up to the dome which is a theme pavilion area. After visiting the theme pavilion, there are two options with the visitors, one; they can go on the top of the shopping area and from the terrace, can enjoy performances or can just sit there and enjoy Indian cuisine two; can come down from the ramp and walk over to the shops and restaurants again and take exit route available on both sides of the veranda.

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai with Bamboo Dome

Dome is the main part of the Pavilion. The dome is planned with a green building concept. The dome is supported on "Moso" bamboo grid supported on steel ring beams. Energy efficiency concept is projected through solar panels, a small wind mill and green herbs on the roof of the dome and bamboo as main structural elements in the dome construction. The theme of the pavilion is displayed in the dome. The dome is having a diameter of about 38 m, probably, largest bamboo dome in the world constructed so far.

Commercial Area

In all there are 14 shops of the size 7.5mx3.5m and two restaurants, one of size 7.2mx9.2m with a kitchen of size 3.5mx5m and the other of the size 7mx3.5m which is basically a take away restaurant. Visitors will have the taste of Indian cuisines while Indian handicrafts and souvenirs will be available in the shops.

Cultural Arena

Various cultural programmes have been planned during the Expo by the Indian government through ICCR. These will be performed in performance centre, a cultural arena constructed by Expo authorities, Asian square, again constructed by the Expo authorities and in India pavilion. In the performance centre and Asian square, cultural programmes will be on selected days but in India pavilion continuous programmes will be held with certain gaps in between. The amphitheatre is having an open air theatre concept with a stage though a fabric covering has been provided considering the weather during the Expo period. Two green rooms are attached to the stage for male and female performers and toilets are planned on the side of the green rooms.

Offices and Service Rooms

A conference room of size about 9.5mx6.3m for about 20 persons and one lounge of about 7.6mx4.3m have been designed to cater the requirements of business delegates, other VIPs and in-house meetings with other visitors. Rooms for the Director of the Pavilion and other staff are also provided. Accommodation for services is planned on the rear side or below dome.

Theme Area

Dome is the heart of the India Pavilion. As already mentioned, it is probably the world's largest bamboo dome. About 30 kms of length of bamboo has been used in the construction of India Pavilion. The dome is a special structure, concept taken from the Sanchi Stupa but constructed with green materials. Display is planned along the periphery and in the centre there is a seating area and place for holographic display. The dome is supported on 18 m long steel piles as the soil of the area was soft clay. Steel ring beams have been provided. Treated bamboo has been bent in the shape of desired shape and bamboo structure designed to take dead load of ferrocement/RCC slab, copper plate used to show "Tree of Life", solar panels, and wind mill and of the plants including that of live loads. Bamboos have been jointed with reinforcement bars and cement mortar. Air conditioning has been provided inside the dome. Panels and other modes of display are inside the dome. On the top of the dome, green plants will be planted, solar panels fixed to provide a concept of green buildings along with a wind mill as a symbolic representation.

India Pavilion at World Expo 2010, Shanghai with Bamboo Dome

Before actual construction, a mock up was constructed and fully loaded as per the requirements to check the safety of the structure. On top surface, light reinforcement slab has been provided over which copper plate has been fixed showing Tree of Life, solar panels and plants are planted through geotextile fixed below.

From the bottom side, bamboo is exposed which has been treated. The dome area is main theme pavilion i.e. the heart of the Pavilion in which visitors will see the glimpses of Indian tradition and modern development through display modes. Theme of the India Pavilion is "Cities of Harmony".

Green Building Features in India Pavilion

The following green building features have been included in the construction:
  1. Site selection though ITPO had no control over it as there is no cutting or scouring effect in the area.
  2. Architectural concept of open veranda and courtyard
  3. Energy efficiency through ventilation and dome shaped structure
  4. Rain water harvesting
  5. Recycling of water, through which green plants will be irrigated.
  6. Wind mill
  7. Solar panels
  8. Use of bamboo which resulted in saving of steel and cement
  9. Use of natural materials like terracotta and bamboo in false ceiling and benches
  10. Use of ferrocement and plants on top of dome which will result in energy efficiency by reduction in air conditioning load.
  11. Plantation of grown up trees and plants in the area.
  12. Use of bricks in flooring in open spaces
  13. Use of natural materials like thatch over roof of the vault.


The Pavilion has been constructed by India Trade Promotion Organisation on behalf of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India who was given the task of participation in the Expo by the Government. M/s Design C has prepared the design of the pavilion. M/s Pavilion and Interiors is the construction agency. The design concept has been given by Sanjay Prakash and Associates and Pradeep Sachdeva Design Associates on behalf of Design C. Structural design has been done by Dr. Prem Krishna of Roorkee and checked by IIT Roorkee. Further, the design has been checked and updated by China Jingye Engineering Corporation Limited, Shanghai and approved by Expo authorities.


Soni, K.M. (2010), India Pavilion-A green Building Concept at World Expo 2010, Shanghai, Journal of Indian Buildings Congress.

MGS Architecture May June 2010

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