The international exposition at Seville, Spain in 1992 attracted over 36 million visitors,
making it one the most successful exhibitions of its kind in the world. At least eight
billion dollars was spent on 111 pavilions, buildings and landscape architecture,
infrastructure and other services. There were 108 participating countries, 17 independent
communities, 23 international organizations and 7 companies with their own buildings,
all included on a list that went far beyond the expected number of participants. The
purpose of Expo 1992 was to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of the arrival of
Christopher Columbus to America. The project was managed by two general
commissioners, Manuél Olivencia Ruíz and Emilio Casinello Aubán. Two proposals for
master plans were accepted—one by Emilio Ambasz, the other by the firm Fernández
Ordoñez, Junquera and Pérez Pita—and the latter was chosen.
An entirely new infrastructure was created for the Spanish exposition, including
highways, bridges, a new opera house (designed by L.Marín, A del Pozo and E Yanez),
an international airport (by R.Moneo), a bus station (J.Cuenca), and a railway station
(A.Cruz, A.Ortíz), for the first high speed train that runs from the capital city of Madrid
to Seville in two hours and thirty minutes. Expo 1992 was officially inaugurated by H.M.
Juan Carlos I, king of Spain, on April 20, 1992.
Entries A–F 799
The site was divided into three well defined sections: the international participants
were located at the north in straddle theme avenues, Spain and the provincial pavilions
were placed around an artificial lake along the east side of the complex, and
environmental theme pavilions, gardens and the introductory halls were built near the
monastery of Santa María de las Cuevas south and southeast of Cartuja Island.
Sustainable architecture included water mist sprays as cooling devices and natural and
artificial shades everywhere to protect visitors from the extreme summer temperatures.
An open theater, El Palenque (designed by J.M.de la Prada), was built for concerts, pageants, and
additional cooling shade.
The eight bridges that connect the Old City with Cartuja Island were internationally
acclaimed and deserve a particular notice. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and
resembling a gigantic harp, the 142-meter El Alamillo Bridge was suspended by cables with
extraordinary sophistication. The Barqueta Bridge (by Arenas and Pantaleón) is an equally
extraordinary structure.
The pavilions could be divided in different types including vernacular
buildings, high-tech buildings, historic or folkloric structures, and massive
structures. Vernacular buildings were in large part constructed of wood,
such as the Hungarian Pavilion (by I.Makovecz) constructed of a massive
oak tree with its roots visible under a glass floor, representing the wisdom
of past ages. The Japanese Pavilion, designed by Tadao Ando, was an
allegory to traditional wood-crafting techniques, with a structure built with
an intricate system of joinery avoiding the use of nails. The Finnish
Pavilion, designed by Sanaksenaho, Rouniainen, Jaaskelainen, Tirkkonnen
and Kaakko, was an unusual example of simplicity and cultural
representation. It comprised two parallel blocks, the first known as the
keel, representing the tradition of boat making. The other built with steel
as characteristic of the industrial culture as counterpart, represented the
The narrow gap between the two structures was named the “hell throat,” and referenced
the rugged Finnish landscape.
Among the high-tech buildings, those from the United Kingdom stood out, in
particular, the British Pavilion, designed by Nicholas Grimshaw. This environmentally
sensitive structure comprised a glass box with solar panels roof slabs, and curtains of mist
and water falling over a glass wall to cool the building and generate electricity at the
same time. The German Pavilion (by H.Muhlberger and G.Lippsmeier), inspired by
dirigibles and flying machines, included an elliptical roof suspended by cables from an
inclined post that supported it, and a building constructed with polycarbonate shields.

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