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Shanghai Expo China hall comes to spotlight amid frenetic attention

2009. 25 April

by Xinhua Writers Wu Yu and Wu Qi

(Xinhua) Shanghai - Impossible is nothing. The Adidas advertising slogan applies well to Chinese architectures. On April 20, a unique 24-floor square building came to the spotlight in East China's Shanghai -- the China Hall of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.

Unlike traditional buildings, which are wider at the base, the China Hall looks two times larger at the top than at the ground base, something like a Titan standing tall and upright in Pudong New District, an economic hub of the country.

After 16 months of busy construction, the 69-meter-high China Hall, a focus and symbol of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, has finally completed civil engineering construction and entered the next phase of construction, which will include electrical wiring and exterior decoration.


The China Hall has four gigantic reinforced concrete pillars from a square base with a distance of 70 meters between each pillar. The pillars support increasingly larger floors on top of them. The roof line stretches 140 meters, exactly doubling the length of the base line. The roof, 19,600 square meters, is equivalent to the size of two and a half football fields.

Professor He Jingtang, the chief designer of the China Hall, who is the president of the architecture school of South China University of Technology, said the design makes the China Hall look grand and magnificent, thus best embodies traditional Chinese architectural features and styles.

"This design symbolizes that China as the crown of the East, height of splendor, granary for all Chinese under the sun," He said.

While the vision is great, construction of the China Hall was difficult.

Ma Longfei, project manager of Shanghai Construction Group (SCG), the general contractor of the project, said constructors have driven 5,000 reinforced concrete piles into the ground to build the China Hall. About 22,000 tons of steel was used to build the hall.

According to the schedule, the China Hall -- with an area of 160,000 square meters, will be fully completed by the end of the year. The total construction will have lasted two years -- one year shorter than building constructions under normal conditions.

"Since the schedule is dead set, we have to work day and night, without any break," said Ma Longfei.

Last November, the China Hall constructors made a record to hoist and install 10,000 tons steel structures in a month.

According to Zhao Jiong, vice-manager of the China Hall project, the China Hall is the largest exhibition hall among all world expos. It involved digging 520,000 cubic meters, casting 500,000 cubic meters concrete, producing and installing 22,000 tons of steel structures, consuming 125 tons of electric welding rods, and paving 40 kilometers pipelines for air conditioners, ventilation, water and electric supply.


The China Hall is designed by three design institutes from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing. Construction teams from across the country, under the direction of SCG, the general contractor, are working on the project. Thousands of construction workers were devoted to the construction.

"It is my honor to have the chance to participate in constructing the China Hall. I will cherish the experience all my life," said Zuo Hui, a worker with SCG.

The China Hall is separated into various sections for exhibitions from all provinces. The top of the hall is reserved for national booths. This national show section is the only arena allowed to accept donations from people of all ranks.

According to the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Coordination Bureau, since the donation acceptance was announced in September 2007, countless Chinese, including overseas Chinese, flooded their donations, including one yuan from primary school pupils, 10 yuan from laid-off workers, and hundreds of yuan from businessmen. On April 22, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. and Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. from Hong Kong, jointly donated 100 million yuan, the largest single donation.

No matter whether it is one yuan or 100 million yuan, the donation symbolizes the concern of the Chinese for the China Hall, said the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Coordination Bureau.

As people show high concern to the China Hall, there might be criticism, as China halls had in previous sessions, said Yu Qiuyu, a famous culture scholar in Shanghai.

"The China Hall was always very large in size in previous sessions, and audiences from various countries would show high expectations on the China Hall," said Yu, who took part in the previous two sessions of the World Expo.

"Many audiences were disappointed with the China Hall, as there were few cultural images that really attract audiences of contemporary days." said Yu.

"Audiences of other countries would largely seek the vitalities behind cultural innovations in the hall of China, an economic powerhouse. However, in our previous exhibitions, we always stressed the four great ancient inventions, the Peking Opera facial make-up, and the Great Wall," said Yu.

"It means a real test will follow after we have completed construction of the 'hardware' for the China Hall. We need to think about what 'software' we are to show in this grand hall," said Yu.


As the Shanghai 2010 World Expo tickets go on sale, more people say they expect to personally go into the China Hall to watch the exquisite exhibitions. If the exhibitions in the China Hall are to be as equally as stunning as the building itself, the organizer faces some challenges, industry officials said.

In previous world expos, the national hall of the host country was the most popular to audiences. People would queue for hours to enter the host country hall. To accommodate enthusiastic audiences, the host country halls were largely built much bigger than all other halls.

Take the Germany Hall at the 2000 Hannover World Expo, which could receive 26,000 visitors a day. The Japan Hall of the Aichi World Expo 2005 was also able to meet 12,000 visitors a day.

According to the organizing committee of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, the Shanghai Expo is expected to attract 70 million visitors from across the world with its 200 exhibition halls and other facilities.

In designing the China Hall, the organizer has fully considered the element of swarming audiences.

"Although the China Hall is the biggest in area compared with itself in all previous world expos, enabling it to receive a record high of 40,000 audiences a day, the capacity remains too small, considering about 400,000 people will enter the world expo quarter each day," said Qian Zhiguang, head of the preparatory group of the China Hall.

"It means only one-tenth of the audiences will be able to walk into the China Hall. Think about the moods of audiences coming from afar, and the situation is too severe," said Qian.

"However, it is not economical and realistic to build a hall boundlessly large," said Qian. "The experiences of previous expos show the biggest hall would not accommodate one-tenth of total visitors in the quarter in a day. So, the best solution is to have all halls most admirably demonstrate the world expo theme and unique feature of each participating country and international organization, so as to attract as many visitors," said Qian.

The Shanghai Expo organizing committee is racking its brain to solve the reception limit problem.

One method, the organizer said, is to keep the China Hall intact for a period after the Shanghai 2010 World Expo ends, to serve audiences.

The organizer is preparing to tap into the Internet to hold an "online World Expo.". This way, many people could take a close look at everything in the China Hall from their computer screens at home. "This will somehow offset the regrets of some visitors who fail to go to the China Hall by themselves," said Qian.