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Copyright: Luiz Trigueiros und Claudio Sat: Architecture. Lisbon Expo'98. Lissabon, 1998, S.160

With their Utopia Pavilion, architect Regino Cruz along with Skidmore, Owings and Merril created a multi-purpose hall for an audience of 16,500, where multimedia shows were staged during the exhibition. The oval-shaped building which – according to the architects – could be viewed simultaneously as an overturned ship’s hull from the time of Vasco da Gama and as the shell of a horseshoe crab, consists of the great oval “Atlantico” hall and a smaller, rectangular annex called “Tagus”. Like a boat floating with its keel upwards, the hall’s arched roof is supported by curved, nearly 120-metre long laminated wooden beams which are fixed to the concrete foundations by means of mobile joints, rather like the iron beams used in the Galerie des Machines in the 1889 Paris Exhibition. It is covered by an aerodynamic-looking hood in zinc sheeting with a silvery sheen, which, seen from the outside, resembles a futuristic spaceship.

In contrast, the wooden arches inside establish the link with shipbuilding. In the auditorium, the seats are arranged in a semicircle. The multimedia show during the exhibition illustrated the cultural and historical dimension of the exposition’s theme using flamboyant methods. Ten tableaux took the audience back through time to the creation of the oceans and the myths surrounding them. The programme ranged from the Big Bang and the discoveries of the great seafarers through to a voyage to Atlantis. The appropriately named organisers, “Juste pour Rire”, offered not so much instruction as a huge extravaganza.

Of the five major pavilions at Expo ’98, only the Future Pavilion was a temporary building, destined to be dismantled after the exhibition. Its architects, Paula Santos, Rui Ramos and Miguel Guedes, attempted to integrate the three functional rooms of the building, with their waved semi-transparent façades of polycarbonate, into the block layout of the exhibition ground. The cylindrical lobby area was cladded completely in wood. Broad ramps led from there to the trapezium-shaped auditorium and into the exhibition. From here, they accessed the exhibition hall proper – constructed on the basis of a simple box-like architectural design – through galleries.

The architects made use of dramatic lighting contrasts: from the dark auditorium, visitors passed through a naturally-lit gallery into a deep-blue exhibition spiral enclosed by balconies, ramps and arched passageways. The theme of the pavilion was a journey through time, from the creation of the earth and the seas through to an optimistic view of the future. Above all, it showed the contribution of man and other living creatures on the planet to the continuing evolution of the seas. As in the other theme pavilions, sound, light and images were extensively used. The objective stated by the exhibition designers was scarcely different from the message of Expo ’98 overall: “We want to change the perception and attitude of the average visitor to the oceans by showing that protecting the seas is a collective task.” As in the other theme exhibitions, visitors were taken on a “journey”; as “scientists and researchers” they were given an opportunity to track down the riches of the seas and were prepared for their future tasks as environmental protectors of the oceans. Only the differing architectures and designs enabled the “average visitor” to recognise whether he or she happened to be in the Utopia or the Future Pavilion.

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The Lisbon World Exposition 1998
The Utopia and Future Pavilions
Year: 1998City: LisbonCountry: Portugal
Duration: 22nd May - 30th September 1998



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