Aichi Expo 2005 celebrates its 10th anniversary

On Saturday, the 28th March, a commemorative ceremony for the 10th anniversary of Aichi Expo 2005 was held in the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium of Nagoya City. 1500 officials and former Expo 2005 staff were present at the official ceremony. 3500 people attended the cultural events organised on this occasion by GISPRI, the foundation set up following the Expo.

Mr. Shoichiro Toyoda, Honorary Chairman of Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition, opened the speeches at the official ceremony by referring to the Expo as a cornerstone for peace and development in the world. Mr. Toshio Nakamura, former Secretary General of Japan Association for the 2005 World Exposition, stressed that the Aichi Expo 2005 philosophy is still alive today and that there is a movement that continues to disseminates its messages. He announced that the planning documents and videos related to Aichi Expo 2005 would be digitalised and kept at the National Diet Library.

The Secretary General of the BIE, Mr. Vicente G. Loscertales, pointed out that Expo 2005 is of vital importance to the World Exhibition movement and to humanity. He thanked all of those present, "the Government of Japan and GISPRI for continuing to ensure that its unique legacy is echoed throughout the world for generations to come".

As part of the cultural performances, the Japanese singers Ryoko Moriyama and Natsukawa Rimi interpreted once more the songs that had been performed at the Aichi 2005 opening ceremony. The Aichi Expo mascots Morizo (Forest Grand Father) and Kiccoro (Forest Child) made a moving appearance on stage and with their friends re-enacted the Expo parade.

Exhibition panels looking back over the 10-year history since the Expo, workshops using natural materials, stands with food from all over the world and civil society booths had been set up for the numerous reminiscing public.

The organisers not only celebrated the success and achievements of Expo 2005 but made the connection with the upcoming Expo Milan 2015 "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" by offering a preview of the contents of the Japan Pavilion at the Expo.

Aichi Expo was held on the theme "Nature's Wisdom" in the Aichi Prefecture, Japan, from the 25th March to the 25th September 2005. The Expo received 22 million visitors. It showcased progress through technological innovations, saw the direct involvement of civil society in the exhibition and left behind an outstanding intangible legacy raising awareness about sustainable development (learn more)

The BIE pays tribute to the architect Otto Frei

The German architect Otto Frei, who marked the history of Expos, passed away on 9th March 2015, at the age of 89. Otto Frei was always looking at the future and he had a great open-mindedness: he enjoyed being surrounded by people with different backgrounds and continuously exploring new possibilities. His state of mind was in line with the Expos' values: knowledge sharing, innovation and the promotion of progress and development. It is a visionary architect who left us and who was acclaimed, rightly, by the international community.

In 1967, he designed the Federal Republic of Germany pavilion for the Montreal Expo. With its roof in the shape of a tent covered by a steel net of impressive dimensions, this construction perfectly fitted with the Expo "space frame" trend, which involved using as much space as possible while limiting the costs and using peculiar material such as foil or plastic. On the occasion of Hanover Expo 2000, he participated as a collaborator and worked with Shigeru Ban for the Japanese pavilion design and with Fruto Vivas for the Venezuelan pavilion. Besides the expos, many of his works are worth taking a look at: the roof of the Olympic Stadium of Munich in 1972 or the gymnasium at the King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia.

Otto Frei's work is all about lightweight structures, which were his trademark. He made a point of using light materials such as nets, ropes, wooden rods or foil. In his opinion, the environmental footprint of architecture was a crucial issue. That is why he had always paid close attention to energy use. Recyclability, sustainability and compatibility with the environment are all issues that were really important to him and which we can catch a glimpse of in his work. Convinced by the significance of education, he enabled the dissemination of his knowledge and technical expertise by founding the Institute for Lightweight Structures open to students. In the past it was located in Berlin, today it is part of Stuttgart University.

The highly prestigious Pritzker Prize should have been awarded to him two weeks after his death in order to reward his lifetime achievement. Posthumous winner, Otto Frei completely deserves this supreme reward which adds to an important record. He is an icon and he contributed to widening the scope of possibilities and revitalizing 21st century architecture. As he said: « I have built little. But I have built many castles in the air »...

Women in the history of World Expos

To celebrate the International Women's day, the BIE takes a look back at the role women have played in the history of World Expos.

Being both a snapshot of the world at a particular time and a place where progress is created, Expos have witnessed the evolution of the role of women in society and have, at the turn of the century, simultaneously showcased the housewife model, presented women's talent and professionalism and allowed the creation of international networks for female solidarity.

Expo Philadelphia 1876 and Expo Chicago 1893 are the most relevant examples of a time where the inferior status of women in society was more and more questioned. In 1876, Elizabeth Duane Gillespie, great-grand daughter of Benjamin Franklin, fought to create, at the Philadelphia World Fair, a Women's Pavilion that would not only display works by women but would also be managed by them, unlike the Women's pavilion of Vienna 1873 that was designed by men. It isn't surprising that such an idea should stem from the United States. A few years earlier, the American Civil War had led many women out of their homes and into public life. Their help in the United States Sanitary Commission was particularly significant.

The 1876 Women's Pavilion

The 1876 Women's Pavilion

The Women's Pavilion of 1876 showcased a great number of art works but also presented the involvement of women in humanitarian issues and even in machinery. 75 women who had filed a patent were able to display their inventions and the engineer Emma Alison surprised visitors by operating the motor that produced the energy of the whole building: women were seen under a new light, even though most of the innovations presented were linked to housework.

With the Fair of Chicago 1893, the role of women in Expos took on a new turn with the creation of the Board of Lady Managers whose 115 members could name female jury members in the different departments of the Fair. The Board was also in charge of organizing and managing a Women's Pavilion. Mrs Bertha Honoré Palmer, wife of millionaire Potter Palmer, was in charge of the project. She was the incarnation of the women of those times, caught between their roles as wives and the will to take control of their lives.

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The Women's Pavilion of Expo Chicago in 1893

The 1893 Women's Pavilion was designed by a woman architect and the interior was decorated by a number of women artists. Like in 1876, the pavilion presented elements linked to the traditional roles of woman, but through these displays visitors could see the intelligence and talent of women. The major progress made by the 1893 project was the creation of an international network of women. To prepare for the event, Mrs Palmer traveled Europe to convince important women such as heads of State's wives to take part in the pavilion. 40 countries contributed, thus giving an international scope to the fight for a better recognition of the role of women.

After that, many Expos built their own Women's pavilion like the Paris Fair of 1900 that allowed the first participation of women to the Olympic Games, Expo Paris 1937, Expo Montral 1967 and San Antonio 1968.

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The Women's Pavilion at the Parisian Fair of 1900


The Women's Pavilion of the Parisian Fair of 1900

Poster of the Women's Pavilion at the Parisian Fair of 1900


At a time where women often were in the shadow of men, Women's Pavilions offered them a space where they could prove their entrepreneurial skills and creative spirit. Today, almost 150 years after the Expo of Philadelphia, their participation is no longer limited to a specific pavilion. They manage National Pavilions and run Expos like Birgit Breuel who was Commissioner General of Expo Hanover 2000.

Moreover, women continue using World Expos to create international networks of women. The next World Expo of Milan dedicated to nutrition has launched Women for Expo that will connect women from all over the world and bring together their ideas, experience and accomplishments in a multimedia platform. Women for Expo will also organize conferences and workshops during the Expo that will lead to the creation of a "Charter for Women" that will group 10 essential ideas to ensure everyone has access to safe food. Women play a crucial role in the search for solutions to today's biggest challenges, and here is to hoping their role will continue to grow.

One hundred years already…

One hundred years already…San Francisco

One hundred years ago, on 20th February 1915, the Panama Pacific International Exposition (P.P.I.E), opened in San Francisco, California. The Exposition was officially aimed at celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, which was inaugurated on 15th August 1914. After the earthquake and the fire of 1906, this Expo became a huge economic opportunity for the city. It was a big success and it did a lot to boost the bay's morale and to reassert the value of San Francisco.

Despite the First World War, 29 foreign countries and 32 American states and territories participated in the Expo. It was a place to exchange views, art, products; a place to write the future in a troubled present

The Expo was built in three years. The most well-recognized buildings were the Tower of Jewels and the Domed City in which each palace had a central dome at the top surrounded by smaller domes. The majority of buildings and palaces were built with materials similar to plaster and they were designed to last only for the Expo period. A notable exception is the Palace of Fine Arts; it was not demolished and it was entirely rebuilt in the '60s. Today, it is a centenarian witness of this great Expo.

The Panama Pacific International Exposition 1915 was the first Expo to widely use the "indirect lighting". These lights reflected the appearance and the colour of the buildings. During misty evenings, the fog got different tints and on clear nights, a stationed locomotive made steam clouds in order to get a similar result.

The main attraction was the topographical model of the Panama Canal, which covered five acres. A movable platform (1440 feet long for 1200 people in 144 carriages continuously connected) went round the model in 23 minutes for the sum of 50 cents. The mechanism presaged the famous "Futurama" of the New York Exhibition in 1939.

100 years ago, about 19 000 000 visitors were present during the entire Exposition period, that is to say 289 days.

100 years later, the Panama Canal is still a strategic crossing point for navigators and today San Francisco is the third most popular tourist destination in the United States.

21st century. Design after Design

The XXIst Triennale di Milano International Exhibition (XX1T), entitled 21st Century. Design After Design was held from 2 April to 12 September 2016.

After a pause of 20 years, the return of the Triennale di Milano International Exhibition was made possible by the support of the BIE (Bureau International des Expositions), the Italian Government, the City of Milan, Lombardy Region, the Chamber of Commerce of Milan and the Chamber of Commerce of Monza and Brianza.

The Theme

As a pioneer and forerunner in the promotion of the arts and research on design, XX1T chose a theme that raised questions on the meaning of design and its role in a constantly changing world. The dominant issues addressed by XX1T were:

  • The spread of design skills all over the world
  • The increasingly transversal nature of design and the breaking down of disciplinary boundaries between architecture, urban planning, design, landscape, communication etc.
  • The new relationship between these different skills.

21st Century. Design After Design did not aim to create visions of the future but rather to decipher the new millennium and identify the changes involved in the concept of planning the future. The preposition "after" can be understood as "subsequent to", in reference to a project created after or as a result of the twentieth century, or in the sense of "notwithstanding" making reference to a design that asserts itself as an antagonist, despite the persistence of conditions carried over from the previous century.

The theme addressed key questions such as the new dramatic art of design, which consists mainly in its ability to deal with those anthropological issues that classical modernity has excluded from its brief - death, the sacred, Eros, destiny, traditions, and history; the issue of gender in design; the impact of globalisation on design; the transformations brought about by the dawn of the 21st century and the crisis of 2008; the relationship between city and design; the relationship between design and the accessibility of new information technologies; and the relationship between design and craftsmanship.

According to the President of the Triennale, Mr. Claudio De Albertis: "21st Century. Design after Design is
a highly articulated concept, whose key elements can serve as founding principles for an exhibition flourishing with objects, at the same time enjoyable to the larger public and a source of reflection for experts, under economic, technological, cultural and educational aspects."

For more on the XX1 Triennale di Milano, check out the 2016 edition of the BIE Bulletin, which is dedicated to its theme.