Inside the Seed Cathedral

Thomas Heatherwick’s Seed Cathedral at the Shanghai World Expo last year was undoubtedly one of the design highlights of 2010.

  Design: Marque Creative

And now the full story of the conception, design and building of the incredible structure – nicknamed The Dandelion – is being told in the British Council’s new book Dandelion: The Making of the UK Pavilion.

Image Credit: Iwan Baan

The Seed Cathedral, which hosted almost 8 million visitors during the world expo, has been dismantled now, and the tens of thousands of seed-containing rods that made up its exterior have been distributed around the world.


Image Credit: Heatherwick Studio


Now that it’s gone, the sheer ambition and elegance of the building seem almost unreal: more than 60 500 acrylic rods, each containing an individual seed and altogether weighing 460 tonnes, all attached the exterior of a building set in its own landscaped ‘park’.

making The Seed Cathedral

  Image Credit: Mace

The book, authored by Kate Goodwin and designed by Marque, gives a detailed run-down of the story of the building, highlighting not just Heatherwick’s design, but also the contributions of project manager Mace, engineer Adams Kara Taylor and exhibition designers Casson Mann and Troika, among others.

the pavilion at night

        Image Credit: UK Pavilion

The book design, with a fitting level of ambition, features a mixture of different paper stocks, text in English and Chinese, CGIs, photographs and, most beguilingly of all, detail drawings and diagrams of the building – including sections and elevations of the seed rods themselves.

Charlia Xia

Image Credit Charlie Xia

As Goodwin’s introduction aptly states, ‘Although the pavilion itself no longer exists, it will continue to resonate in the imagination of all those who saw it and for those who will encounter the story and the images of it in times to come.’

Dandelion: The Making of the UK Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo 2010, by Kate Goodwin, is published by The British Council’s Architecture, Design and Fashion Department.

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  • raquel sereno November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The Pavilion is going to Beijing this October, if you want to find more about this project and similar projects. Visit:

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