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Atomium

Expo 58, also known as the Brussels World’s Fair, Brusselse Wereldtentoonstelling or Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles, was held from 17 April to 19 October 1958[1]. It was the first major World's Fair after World War II.

Contents

Background

Nearly 15,000 workers spent three years building the 2 km² site, found on the Heysel plateau, seven kilometres northwest of central Brussels, Belgium. Many of the buildings were re-used from the Brussels International Exposition (1935), which had been held on the same site.

Every 25 years starting in 1855, Belgium had staged large national events to celebrate its national independence following the Belgian Revolution of 1830. However, the Belgian government under prime minister Achille Van Acker decided to forego celebrations in 1955 to have additional funding for the 1958 Expo.[2]

Expo 58 was the 11th World's Fair hosted by Belgium, and the fifth in Brussels, following the fairs in 1888, 1897, 1910 and 1935. After Expo 58, Belgium has so far not arranged any more world fairs.

The Exposition

The site is best known for a giant model of a unit cell of an iron crystal (each sphere representing an atom), called the Atomium, which decades later remains one of the best known landmarks of Brussels.

The Centenary Palace in Heysel Park, a centrepiece at the Expo (viewed from the Atomium)

The fair is known for a musical milestone, a melding of musical composition and architecture. Edgard Varèse composed "Poème électronique," which was recorded to be played back from 425 loudspeakers, placed at specific points in the Philips Pavilion, designed by Iannis Xenakis while under the employ of Le Corbusier.

More than 42 million visitors visited the site, which was opened with a call for world peace and social and economic progress, issued by King Baudouin I.

The fair is also remembered for being the place where Orson Welles's Touch of Evil was awarded the top prize by then-critics Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, despite Universal Studios' domestic dumping as a B-picture.

National Pavillions

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British

This was produced by the designer James Gardner, architect Howard Lobb & engineer Felix Samuely. The on-site British architect was Michael Blower, Brussels born and bilingual. [3].

Mexican

This was designed by the architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. It was awarded the exposition's star of gold.

References

  1. ^ "When the world was in Brussels". Flanders Today. April 16, 2008. http://flanderstoday.eu/jahia/Jahia/pid/1586.  
  2. ^ Expo 58, The Royal Belgian Film Archive, Revised Edition, 2008, p. 78 (booklet accompanying DVD edition of footage from the exhibition)
  3. ^ See chapter by Jonathan Woodham - Caught between Many Worlds: the British Site at Expo ‘58’(see bibliography)

Bibiliography

  • The Architecture of Expo 58 by Rika Devos & Mil De Kooning (eds). Dexia/Mercatorfonds, 2006 (ISBN 0-0-0).

See also

External links

Preceded by
Port-au-Prince International
World Expositions
1958
Succeeded by
Century 21 Exposition

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