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John Körmeling and Rijk Blok based the design of their pavilion for the Expo 2010 in Shanghai on the theme ‘a better city starts with a better street’. Körmeling’s Happy Street design is a spiral-shaped street along which 28 well-known Dutch buildings are suspended. This, for example, includes an abstract canalside house, as well as the Rietveld Schröderhuis and the Thonikhuis designed by the MVRDV architecture and design practice. The shape is not a complete spiral; it rather is a rising figure eight.
Structurally, the Happy Street project is extremely complex; its realisation was only possible through the use of 3-D BIM. The pavilion is supported by columns alone: no shear walls are in place. The hanging houses result in a large number of eccentric loads. Earthquakes, which are not uncommon in this part of China, pose a completely different kind of risk. Apart from this – non-typically Dutch – stress on the building, the construction must in any case withstand millions of visitors walking on it without excessive vibration.
The structure is formed by a steel shaft. Due to the shape of the design and the asymmetric placement of the small houses, the load-bearing structure had to be able to withstand torsional forces. This is why it was decided to have a 2.4 x 1-metre shaft bear the street. Overhanging I-profiles were attached to the shaft. These I-profiles furthermore were not standard. The problem was that because the street runs at an angle, the I-profiles also had to be at an angle. The I-profiles were custom-welded by the Chinese contractor in such a way that their body is positioned directly below the small houses. All pipelines, including a sprinkler system, were housed alongside the large shaft. Indeed, the pavilion had to meet a strict fire code.
The architectural and constructive 3D design for the 350-metre long ‘Happy Street’ was developed by ABT. The Chinese Construction Group subsequently further developed the design to the construction level.
Team Dutch Pavilion World Expo 2010