The ‘Urbanian Pavilion’ is one of the five large Chinese pavilions made for the World Expo Shanghai 2010. 

The pavilion focuses on the theme ‘Urban Population’ and the quality of life in the city. The pavilion highlights the most important themes that influence the quality of life in a city: a healthy and safe environment, ample and satisfying work, good education possibilities and a rich social network. The exhibition also shows why the city, with its diversity and possibilities, is so attractive for so many people.

The main idea for the narrative followed and compared six existing families in their search for happiness. The families came from six different cities on six different continents. The goal was to make a ‘people’ pavilion. Real stories of real people would strongly reinforce the visitor’s identification. The idea was that this tactic could reach the broadest audience, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.

In total nearly 6 million people (mostly Chinese) visited the ‘Urbanian Pavilion’. Combining family (micro) stories with macro-statistics made it possible to relate a much bigger narrative without using as many words. This way it is easier for visitors to become aware of the theme of urbanization at the macro level. 

In this lecture, Herman Kossmann explains how his team worked for 2.5 years on this story to make an exhibition out of it.

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