USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Counting sheep…

“Welcome in the Netherlands” reads the sign as we approach the structure. Upon turning the corner to enter the space I see them.




I never really associated the Netherlands with sheep, but I guess I don’t know much about this place to begin with. Regardless, they are obviously significant enough to have been included in the design of this pavilion, so just go with it.

“Happy Street,” as MVRDV christened their entry into the World Expo, certainly does bring to mind fond memories of the brightly lit carnivals and amusement parks from the good old days. Instinctively, I search for the cotton candy and kettle corn vendor stands, but all I see are sheep.  A lot of people, and sheep.

Conceptually, the pavilion is presented as an extension of the pedestrian walkway, hence its name. The entire exhibition is almost impossibly cantilevered off of this main path, in much the same way that shops and storefronts extend from sidewalks and streets. Going through this exhibit feels a lot like window-shopping. Moving up along the street you catch glimpses of trinkets as you peer into the small cutout openings. Well, assuming that you can nudge and elbow your way to the front of the mass of people who are frantically crowding the space before the displays to get the best photo…


Flashing bulbs provide constant visual stimuli, urging you to climb further to see around the next bend. Because this path is open to the outside, your perception of the activities taking place on the ground floor constantly changes as you wind up through the pavilion. At the highest point – looking down from above – the people and sheep on the lowermost level become indiscernible.



More sheep.

Even more people.

Shifting my line of sight back to the uppermost levels, I see more people. Or are they sheep?

Does it make a difference? In the end we’re all being herded around these pavilions like a mindless flock.

Baahh.. baaaaAhh..

Oh hey, that person stopped to look at that thing. Maybe I’ll stop too. Wait, I wanna see what’s there. Hey me too. Outta my way. Let me through. What’s that over there?

Unlike the synchronized flocks of birds often seen flying en masse, the patterns of movement within these pavilions are conflicting and chaotic at best. Abrupt stops paired with shoving from every direction pave the way for a lot of collisions. Not that anyone seems to mind. It’s all worth it for that one stamp.


Yep, that sounds about right.

– alfredo

Filed under: Netherlands Pavilion, Sheep, Uncategorized, World Expo


The views and opinions contained in this blog are solely those of the individual authors and do not represent the views and opinions of the University of Southern California or any of its officers or trustees.



AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu