Technology over public space : A study of roofed space in the Osaka, Hannover, and Shanghai Expos

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-126
Journal / PublicationJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


World expositions (expos) are spectacles and visual celebrations of human advances. Frequently termed fun expos or amusement parks by critics, the architecture and urban spaces created for such events are rarely discussed in the academic world, even though they have played an increasingly important role in expos since 1970. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are attracted to the expo sites each day, and they need to be given adequate public space for relaxation and socializing. In fact, expo sites are often more crowded than some of our densest cities and should be treated as genuine towns with very high population densities. In this article, public-space planning is referenced to traditional European town planning and contemporary development in high-density Asian cities. The former emphasizes streets and squares as the essential elements for various public social activities, while the latter use different strategies, such as multifaceted pedestrian systems, pocket parks, and sequential public spaces. The expo public spaces, particularly the giant roofed areas, work together to integrate traditional elements into high-density situations. In this paper, we illustrate how technology and public-space planning strategies were merged and adapted to create the breathtaking, multifunctional central sheltered spaces for three expos: Osaka, Hannover, and Shanghai. Through this illustration, we hope to provide useful lessons for effective public-space design, not only for future world events but also for high-density cities. Copyright © 2013, Locke Science Publishing Company, Inc. Chicago, IL, USA All Rights Reserved.