World's Fairs and Expositions have produced some of the most memorable architectural statements in history: The Crystal Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the White City, Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome, the Atomium, and the Seattle Space Needle are all excellent examples. While the general idea behind these events is to bring everyone together, there has always been a very competetive undercurrent. Every country comes dressed to impress, and the host has to work extra hard to out-do the guests. Hence the landmark centerpieces.

An announcement from the people who run ExpoMuseum (a site that is most certainly worth a long rainy day's visit) popped up in my inbox tonight. The topic was the selection of the central building for Wroclaw, Poland's bid for Expo 2012. (If you live in North America and are surprised to hear that these things are still going on, it might have something to do with the fact that there hasn't been an expo here since 1988.) It's fun and it's funky, and it kind of looks like what Fuller's dome might have looked like after falling down a long, winding flight of stairs. Or if it were wrapped around the Matterhorn in Disneyland; the building is, in fact, intended to look like a mountain.

After all of that talk about the Tower of the Sun yesterday, I could try to draw some nifty parallels or make a witty observation about Expo architecture and how expos use deliberately overwhelming architecture to create a heightened sense of place, but for once I'll just shut up and let you oggle the architecture -- click the b&w image above for a larger, full-color version.

Tonight, we end with this passage from the announcement: "The subject proposed by Wroclaw for the Expo is 'The leisure culture in world’s economies'. [Guallart's] building is a mountain of activities of one hundred meters high, and contemplates auditoriums, administrative zones, offices, restaurants, a viewpoint and a cableway in its top. The building was inspired [by] the Centennial Hall, built by Max Berg in Wroclaw in 1913 (when [it] was still part of the German land) and was the biggest concrete cupola of the world [at the time]. Guallart's proposal contemplates its use during the Expo, as its transformation [into] a leisure and business centre before the event."

(I can't for the life of me find the announcement or the image anywhere online, so until I do I'm rehosting the image...if anyone knows where it is being officially hosted, please let me know and I'll correct the link.)

ExpoMuseum.com (If you're into Expos, check out their blog.)

Vicente Guallart


Bernault said...

Nice article. I used it as an inspirational source for an article on www.bernault.net, for which I thank you. I added you to my Blogroll :)

Urso Chappell said...

Thanks for the kind words about ExpoMuseum!

I immediately thought of the Matterhorn at Disneyland, as well, especially with the gondolas interacting with it.

It's going to be interesting to see what Wroclaw, Poland; Yeosu, South Korea; and Tangier, Morocco each propose in the coming months as they compete against each other for 2012.

Now, if we can just get a North American city to put in a bid for 2017, 2018, or 2020!

Brendan Crain said...

I've been a fan of ExpoMuseum for a while...I've been waiting for a reason to include it in a post. :-)

As for North America, it would be super-exciting to see the US or Canada getting back into the mix. I like "San Francisco 2020"...it has a nice ring to it.