Shanghai 2010 World Expo Corporate Pavilion
Visitors help compose a dazzling interactive experience that reflects their dreams for Shanghai’s future.
In 2010, the city of Shanghai hosted the World Expo, a major exposition of culture and innovation from around the world. ESI Design collaborated with the Shanghai Corporate Community and a group of world-renowned architects and artists to design the World Expo's "Dream Cube", a 40,000-square-foot pavilion that encourages visitors to participate in an impressive multimedia experience comprised of cutting-edge technology, dreamlike environments, collaborative social spaces and sustainably designed materials.
Inspired by the citizens of Shanghai, the Dream Cube leads visitors through a beautiful story of the city’s past, present and future. The experience also transforms moment-by-moment via their collective participation. Crowd-sourced photos uploaded by the public at the Dream Cube website blend with stunning video on immense media walls. Beds of glowing LED crystalline reeds change color with the sweep of visitors’ hands. A 360-degree interactive theater showcases the audience’s gestures and physical actions, which trigger dramatic changes to millions of LED lights on the Dream Cube’s façade. In these and many other ways, the Dream Cube promises to set new trends for future designs of World Expo experiences and other large-scale public events.
Inside the Dream Cube, visitors travel through a 20-minute journey inspired by fourth-century Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi’s dream that he was a butterfly (or, alternately, a butterfly dreaming it was Zhuangzi) – a perfect metaphor for transformation.
The amazing journey starts as visitors queue beneath the massive yet ethereal structure, where thousands of LED rods pulse with light. From the queue, visitors ascend on an escalator, surrounded by bluish light and soft music, into the heart of the Dream Cube. There, they stroll along the “Dreamer’s Path,” a visual story of the city of Shanghai through time – from a small rural village to a vibrant mega-metropolis. Along the path, interactive areas fill with flying butterflies, changing seasons, crowd-sourced images of city life, sculptural lighting and surprise video “portals” that respond to visitor interaction.
The path ultimately leads visitors into a massive circular theater — the Dream Cube Control Room — where they gather to participate in a 360-degree interactive video experience narrated by the famous actress and director Xu Jinglei, who plays “Professor Butterfly” in the Dream Cube story. The giant screen surrounds the audience in the sights and sounds of Shanghai through stunning visual flyovers and special effects, while Professor Butterfly invites them to reflect on the challenges and opportunities facing Shanghai. She praises the strength of Shanghai’s citizens and encourages them to work together to create a better city for all. In the final climactic moments, Professor Butterfly reveals live-feed images of the exterior façade, as she rallies the crowd to wave their arms high in the air. In lively response, the Dream Cube’s exterior pulses with color in time with their collective actions, sweeping them up in the emotional and transformative power of collaboration.