par Devos, Rika
Référence Bulletin (Bureau international des expositions), 2021-2022, page (115-137)
Publication Publié, 2022-04-01
Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : At Expo 58, the first post-war world’s fair, architecture was attributed a prominent role by both organizers and participants. Consequently, important critics worldwide had high expectations and several of them visited the fair and shared their observations. Expo 58 offered a panorama of exhibition architectures that illustrated the diversity of post-war modern architecture and offered a good selection of the ongoing contemporary debates. Professional critics of that time, however, were rather critical in their general observation of the world’s fair. They did not consider the modern architecture of Expo 58 a demonstration of innovative evolutions and deplored the recurrent use of modernist “clichés” like the glass box. Nonetheless, they all applauded the fair as a welcome occasion for an overdue general rapprochement between the public and the Modern Movement in architecture and considered this the main contribution of the event. Contemporary observers who expected Expo 58 to be a testing ground for innovative architecture and engineering were obviously disappointed. Yet what was the relevance of such a laboratory at a time when an ever more diverse modern architecture was seeking for an altered societal relevance and did these high expectations not blur the view on the architectural panorama of the fair?Through a sketch of the general ambitions of the fair’s organisers, a discussion of the most dominant informed contemporary observations on Expo 58’s architecture and structures and a focused analysis of a selection of pavilions, this essay sets out to offer a critical, nuanced and lavishly illustrated answer to these questions. With a focus on the pavilions of the foreign nations, the essay presents the architecture of Expo 58 as embedded in the contemporary discussions on modern architecture, colored by political ambition and confrontation and struggling with the essentially demonstrative nature of the typology of the exhibition pavilion.