|Architecture and art of the great world exhibitions
As an architect, I am fascinated by the expo phenomena and always look forward to visiting the latest one in order to see
new groundbreaking architecture and art achievements.
From my point of view, expos stimulate social energy and owe their existence to such energy. The exhibition is a multidimensional
creation. It is a synthesis of different traditions, which – despite being gathered into an ephemeral complex – retain their
identity. These exhibitions may be defined as the union of trade’s forms, religious ceremonies, secular rites, games and folk
Expos use architecture and art as tools of non-verbal communication to present our current and future condition – our ambitions
and ideas – to ourselves. The architecture of the expo illustrates the energy that communities embody or possess. It is a
demonstration of political or religious arguments, building up the particular nation’s warranty of wealth or strength. Expo
architecture symbolises the official, final contract of equilibrium between the sacred and the profane – between holy and
secular values –, while combining spiritual participation with ordinary consumption. Thanks to exhibition architecture, each
country has an exceptional opportunity to present its development in almost every field – from economical to ecological.
Since world expos are an example of opposing schemes – a game and a spectacle – being interwoven, the criteria for the evaluation
of architectural solutions implemented on the expo grounds are completely different from those used to evaluate the space
of everyday existence. All that which in conventional conditions would be condemned for the application of surrealistic solutions
is understood to excite and enchant within the context of world expos.
Designers of expo pavilions apply the achievements of progressive architecture and technique. This architecture illustrates
the contemporary, and sometimes even pioneers new aesthetical directions. At the same time, the forms and ephemeral character
of expo architecture become distant to the primary aims of architecture, namely to satisfy the needs of everyday social existence.
Exhibition pavilions are physical means of expression that demonstrate a strong need to celebrate authority, manifest the
achievements of civilisation, while confirming a desire for integration. Exhibition architecture, though balanced, is subject
to quite different formal assumptions, thus becoming the „autonomic art of constructing”.
In spite of its vulgar, infantile or exaggerated character - in spite of its highly saturated impracticality – expo architecture
offers great, exceptionally rich and spectacular proof of the creative abilities and aspirations of humanity.
Dipl. Ing. Arch. Dr inż. arch. Ksenia Piątkowska
Technical University of Gdańsk
Institute of the Public Buildings’ Architecture