The Gold of America

1992 seville046

« The Gold of America » : the Eldorado in Expo Seville1992

In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered America. 500 years later, this discovery was celebrated on the occasion of Expo Seville whose theme was "The Age of Discovery". Consequently, Latin America featured prominently. An impressive building, called "Plaza de America" was dedicated to it and gathered all the countries from this part of the world. Among the various contents proposed, it is the "The Gold of America" exhibition, which captured the visitors' attention most.

The treasures gathered for this exhibition were really impressive. Gold was represented in very different forms and the visitor was given details about how it was used during the Pre-Columbian era. For instance, we learn that gold was synonymous with religious, social but also political power. It was the favoured decoration for the various ceremonies that were the tempo of life in the Pre-Columbian era.

The richness of this exhibition was mainly due to the great diversity of works shown to the visitors. In fact, the most important Pre-Columbian civilizations were represented. The Quimbaya Treasure was indisputably the most important part of the exhibition: it was made of about 200 items found in 1890 during excavation. Then, it was given to the Queen of Spain Maria Christina. Among these objects was a lot of jewellery: necklaces, pendants, and bracelets... They shared a distinctive feature: most of them had a human form.

With a little imagination, visitors could picture Calima warriors or a Chimu chief thanks to the exhibition of their equipment and costumes. Last but not least, the visitors discovered a striking variety of the know-how and methods used to shape precious metals.

This extraordinary content was gathered thanks to a great cooperation between some museums. A number of them participated: the Museo del oro of Bogota, Madrid's Museo de America, the Museum of the Banco de Reserva of Peru and the Archaeological Museum Rafael Larco Herrera. The pooling of their incredible collections made "The Gold of America" an amazing exhibition that shed a new light upon the Pre-Columbian civilizations. In this way, visitors had the opportunity to immerse in this millennia-old culture and appreciate its wonders. Finally, it is above all the biggest exhibition ever organized on this theme and unquestionably the most remarkable cultural event in World Expositions' history.

The Japanese cardboard pavilion at Hanover World’s Expo

What is the story behind the surprising Japanese pavilion design during Hanover Expo? By looking at it, we can see an uncommon structure made of paper tubes. To give some figures, it is a two-floor building, 74 meters long built with 80% recycled and recyclable paper.

The man who considered and designed this piece of work is the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, famous for his use of cardboard. Indeed, he was a pioneer in this domain. He is also known for his spirit of innovation and his commitment as a social architect. In fact, he worked as a consultant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: thanks to his work, many victims of natural disasters benefited from temporary and decent habitations, based, of course, on the use of paper tubes. The architect saw this use as an answer to emergency situations but also and mainly a new way to consider the city design. That is why he accepted to work on the Japanese pavilion.

After consideration, the idea was to create a structure based solely on paper tubes in order to allow the natural light into the pavilion. Other conditions were set: to be able to recycle and reuse the equipment once the structure was dismantled, to limit as much as possible industrial wastes and to use traditional construction techniques. In short, it was a perfect illustration of the theme of the Expo, which advocated for sustainable development: "Humankind – Nature – Technology".

The construction of the pavilion was complicated. For the organizers as well as for the Japanese participant, tact and diplomacy had to be employed in order to please each of the parties. The original construction had to be redesigned: a steel reinforcement was added in order to make the structure stronger and the roof was lined with a transparent PVC membrane to meet security requirements while respecting the architect's will to let in natural light.

The story of the Japanese pavilion during Hanover Expo is above all a series of compromises. It lead to the creation of a perfectly environment-friendly pavilion which proposed alternative architecture, which in turn reconnected with Japanese tradition by taking inspiration from "shoji": walls or sliding doors made of rice paper that are integral components of the Japanese traditional architecture.

At the end of the Expo, the cardboard was indeed reused by a paper shop. The Japanese Ministry of Construction accepted the use of paper tubes as a new construction method. In 2014, the architect Shigeru Ban won the Pritzker Prize for all his work: it is the highest distinction in architecture.