“Ren” – People’s Building, Shanghai World Expo 2010… May 1 – Oct. 31.

By P Chong                  Mon. 5 April 2010

Ren” or People’s Building

World Expo 2010

What do you mean by being a “Greenie Conservationist”?

To me, it would mean having a close affinity to mother earth & nature.

On this premise, China is about the most “greenie” globally in that most innovations are as a result of nature link. For instance, the fighting skills of Chinese martial arts are based largely on the movements of animals & birds & even insects.

There’s another aspect of greenery that I found, during my first visit to China in 1989, to be surprising lacking. I refer to the playing green & lawns – everywhere was largely paved as around the Forbidden City.

Now in this DNY age, with the threat of climate change, China is drawn even closer to this “green” technology, such as wind power for energy, great hydro-electric energy as in the Yangtze & green automobiles & buses. In the imminent World Expo in May 2010, there is a spectacular building depicting the Chinese affinity to the basic Five Elements of the earth – Fire 火, Water 水, Earth 土, Wood 木 & Metal . It’s the “Ren” 人 Building which I thought is much more impressive & meaningful than the main China Pavilion, as representing the wisdom of Chinese people.


China Pavilion

“Our cities must be places where human beings lead full lives in dignity, good health, safety, happiness and hope.”– The Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlement, by the United Nations Human Settlements Program


In line with The Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements as depicted by the above picture, the theme of Expo 2010 is “Better City, Better Life,” representing the common wish of the whole humankind for a better living in future urban environments.

Ren” 人 – People’s Building is unique – one of its kind in the world. Two arched bodies emerge – one on the ground, the other in water – in direction to the sky, united at the top and bonding in a unique monumental building of hurled forms, similar to a tube of perfumed action and bended by an immense force. Its profile suggests the Chinese alphabetic character which means “people”. That’s the way the People’s Building will be at the Expo 2010, in Shanghai,China.

The Povo Building (codename: REN) is a project of a group of Danish architects and designers named BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). An oriental philosophical form, a symbol which goes beyond the similarity with the calligraphic sign with whom it identifies. That way, the body emerges from water and is dedicated to the activities of physical culture, sports, etc.; since the emerging body of land is destined to activities such as “spiritual enrichment” – conference centre and others. At the point of encounter, where the building turns into one, is located a hotel of 1000 rooms! The project occupies 250 000m2 of constructed area.

It’s said that “The external is the internal of all of us”. When we look to the beauty of nature, we find that Five Elements provide the foundation for the entire world . . . Fire, Water, Earth, Wood & Metal – as the building blocks of all building materials . . . the basic principles of Feng Shui philosophy, including the Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Interaction Between The Five Elements

If you are a Chinese scholar, you’ll be able to identify all the Five Elements depicted in the structure of the Building.


*(As a tourist attraction, the “Little Mermaid” sculpture at the Copenhagen Harbour will be flown to the Expo for display in the Danish Pavilion. I saw this “Little Mermaid” way back in the summer of 1959.)

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