SHANGHAI: China's main national pavilion for the upcoming Shanghai Expo was ushered in with fireworks and traditional drum performances at its completion yesterday.
After about 26 months of hard work, the Oriental Crown - a large, inverted red pyramid that stands as one of the biggest structures in the 5.28-sq-km Expo garden - has started inner decoration and is due for trial runs in April.
Its completion comes on heels of work being finished on three other permanent structures - Expo Center, Theme Pavilion and Expo Boulevard.
A total of 11 joint pavilions and 37 rented pavilions, which are constructed by the host country, have been delivered to foreign participants for inner decoration.
Expo organizers vow to do their utmost, though an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the 112 pavilions and other projects might not be completed on time.
At yesterday's ceremony, attended by more than 1,000 people, the city's top leader Yu Zhengsheng announced the completion of the 69-m structure.
The 1.5 billion-yuan ($220 million) China Pavilion contains the national pavilion and a 30,000-sq-m exhibition hall for provinces and regions. The Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan have their own exhibition halls.
"People may compare the building to a caldron or granary, but the most important thing is it looks Chinese," said He Jingtang, the chief designer of the China pavilion. "Despite the many valuable items on display indoors, the pavilion itself is the first exhibit the Shanghai Expo has to offer."
As the indoor exhibition arrangements are still being made, the roof garden on top of the annex is the only accessible area at the moment.
The theme of the 27,000-sq-m roof garden originated in the ruined Old Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It displays a lake surrounded by eight islands, which were given the landscapes of farm, marsh, fishery, ridge, forest, pasture, ravine and desert. The eight islands plus the China Pavilion related to the ancient Chinese territorial concept of "Jiu Zhou" (The Nine Continents).
"The many curves used in the garden are also a balance to the masculine elements of the Oriental Crown," the designer said.
However, there is a chance that some of the 50,000 daily visitors to the China pavilion will not see the full picture of the garden during their tour.
"We will drain the lake to leave more space if there is too much traffic," said Zhang Li, who is in charge of the roof garden design. "To assure traffic flow is our first priority."
"We've implemented cutting edge design and construction work," said He. "We've also included many environmentally friendly factors such as solar panels on the roof and a rain collection and recycling system."