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Photos credit: Patrick Alleyn


Bordering America Square, across from the pavilion for the Latin American countries and not far from the one representing the United States, Canada was granted a levelled rectangle of 100 by 60 metres to erect its pavilion. Few details are provided to offer a concrete expression of the site. Therefore, it became an auspicious screen upon which to project, invent, and appropriate.

From east to west, clusters establish themselves principally along the southern border of the 50th parallel, in an elongated territory that starts just shy of the 60th meridian and continues across to the 130th. This territory forms a long curving ribbon whose ends meet and join to form a virtual loop through the communications linking regions, through the same sense of belonging, the same will to live together that emerges and rallies all citizens whatever their origin in the world or wherever they live in the country.

The pavilion’s architecture layers and weaves together a series of intertwined metaphors at different scales. The first represents the country, and serves as site for the second, that of the city, which in turn encompasses that of the town square. [1]

The creative concept of the design was created by Cirque du Soleil, a major Montréal-based entertainment company, and a household name synonymous with the modern theatrical circus production. Cirque du Soleil is also responsible for organizing the pavilion’s public presentation, producing the cultural program, and developing strategic corporate alliances under the theme, “The Living City: Inclusive, Sustainable, Creative.” The pavilion was designed around an open-air public space as its centerpiece. [2]

The steel-framed building was designed for energy efficiency, employing glass and aluminum curtain walls. About 4,000 square metres of Canadian red cedar was used to create the outer skin of the building envelope, which incorporates sun-shielding shutters to reduce thermal gain in the building. The envelope’s pre-fabricated panels were installed on steel using self-drilling fasteners. The cedar boards were individually fastened to the steel frame, which allows the wood to be easily dismantled, so it can be re-used in construction projects following Expo.

Other green features of the building include the use of a reflective white membrane roof and the inclusion of a 15- by 40-metre green wall composed of evergreen seedlings, designed to cool the pavilion and filter air. [3]

Parts of the pavilion’s exterior walls will be covered by greenery and rainwater will be collected by a drainage system for use inside the pavilion. [2]


[1]       “Canada’s Pavilion for Expo Shanghai 2010.” SAIA BARBARESE TOPOUZANOV ARCHITECTES. Accessed August 13, 2021. https://sbt.qc.ca/en/projects/pavillion-du-canada-pour-expo-shanghai-2010/.

[2]       “Canada Pavilion at World Expo 2010 in Shanghai Has Steel Backbone – Constructconnect.com.” Journal Of Commerce, November 2, 2017. https://canada.constructconnect.com/joc/news/projects/2010/06/canada-pavilion-at-world-expo-2010-in-shanghai-has-steel-backbone-joc039163w.

[3]        “Shanghai Expo 2010: The Canadian Pavilion.” China Briefing News, February 27, 2014. https://www.china-briefing.com/news/shanghai-expo-2010-the-canadia-pavilion/.


Additional information:

“Canadian Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010.” designboom, March 14, 2010. https://www.designboom.com/architecture/canadian-pavilion-at-shanghai-expo-2010/.


“The Canadian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.” Contemporist features great ideas from the world of design, architecture, interior design, furniture, lighting, and art, September 5, 2010. https://www.contemporist.com/the-canadian-pavilion-at-the-shanghai-world-expo-2010/.


“Government of Canada.” Canada.ca. / Gouvernement du Canada, December 5, 2009. https://www.canada.ca/en/news/archive/2009/12/backgrounder-canada-shanghai-world-exposition-2010.html.


“Water-Harvesting Wood Clad Canada Pavilion Designed by Cirque Du Soleil.” Inhabitat Green Design Innovation Architecture Green Building. Accessed August 13, 2021. https://inhabitat.com/cirque-du-soleil-lends-hand-to-design-canada-pavilion-for-shanghai-expo/.


Project Title: The Canada Pavilion
Artists:  Saia Barbarese Topouzanov Architects
Year: 2010

Place: Shanghai, China (Shanghai World Expo)

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