Seventeen journeys to a world exhibition
Since my early childhood I have been fascinated by world exhibitions. At that time my parents told me about their visit to Expo '58 in Brussels and how my father tried to save the German pavilion from demolition, unfortunately without a positive result. So instead my parents bought parts of the exhibition's furniture designed by the German architect Egon Eiermann, furnishings I'm still living with, pieces of a very private Expo. Back then as a ten-year-old Boy I was deeply shocked to learn that buildings admired for their architectural Quality were demolished only aa short while after their construction. That's how I came to trace the ephemeral Expo phenomenon. 41 years have gone by, years in which a wide-ranging and voluminous arcive came into beeing, exhibitions were organized, books were written, TV reports and Radio programmes werde advised while journeys to Expo cities took place: Hanover (2000), Saragossa (2008), Shanghai (2010), Yeosu (2012), Milan (2015).
On the Occasion of last year's Expo Milano I had the extraordinary opportunity to study closely what happens when a Metropolis Comes to life on a small territory for six months. My numerous insights werde made possi ble by the cooperation with the Parisian Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) which since 1928 Awards and regulates world exhibitions. In a Joint venture between Paris and the Association of the German TRade Fair Industry (AUMA), Berlin, it was decided to translate my book "Geträumt", geplant, gebaut - abgerissen: Weltausstellungsarchitektur" into English. It appeared as "Dreamt, planned, built - ragged: Worldexpoarchitecture" in 2015, a Special Edition Extended specifically for Milan. So I suddenly was in the middle of a world exhibition, which took me to Milan seventeen times between May and October of the same year.
On behalf of the Chamber of Architects in North Rhine-Westphalia, AUMA, BIE and the German Federal Ministry of Economy I scouted the exhibition grounds, led delegations and gave lectures about the phenomenon "world exhibition". I concluded that in Milan more intensely than during previous world exhibitions a strong urban structure had been erected, a multilingual, divers "global village" had emerged. The pavilions were constructed Close to each other building a Kind of interacting neighbourhood rather than defending isolated Islands.
A huge central axis spanned by a series of enormous canvasses built a "rue des nations". Like a string of pearls the buildings stood side by side inviting charmingly to not only cast a glance but after a second look to visit or trace the pavilions, clisters and theme pavilions which followed. Expo buildings are architectures of concept, theatre and communication. They transmit messages and invite the vivitor to learn more about the exhibiting nations' issues and sensitivities. Thoughhout their history world exhibitions have been focal points of their time or as the architect Le Corbusier put it "marshalling Yards for the ideas of the world".
During Expo Milano 2015 I was interested in all aspects of the grounds and constructions; their aesthetics, their contexts, their structure, their atmosphere. I tried to record my impressions by photography, writing and drawings. As a result this visuospatial sketchbook emerged which was my Partner during the seventeen journeys. Drawings of spatial situations, site plans, views, perspectives, details and notes united in a Handy pocket book, in which despite of ist humble dimensions a world exhibition can take place.