Technology over Public Space : A Study of Roofed Space in the Osaka, Hanover, and Shanghai Expo

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108 - 126
Journal / PublicationJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2013


The Universal Exposition is a spectacle and a visual celebration of human advances. While frequently termed “a fun-Expo” or “an amusement park” by critics, the architecture and urban spaces created in such events are rarely discussed in the academic world, despite the fact that they have played increasingly an important role in the Expositions since 1970. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are attracted to the Expo sites each day. The visitors need to be given adequate public space for relaxation and communication. 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 density. In this article, public space planning is referenced to traditional European town planning and contemporary development of Asian high-density cities. The former emphasizes streets and squares as the essential elements for various public social activities. The latter have different strategies, such as multi-faceted pedestrian systems, pocket parks and squares. It is found that the expo public spaces, particularly the giant roofed areas, work together to strongly integrate the traditional with the high density situations.The authors illustrate how technology and public space planning strategies were merged and adapted to create the breathtaking multi-functional central sheltered spaces of the three expos. Through this illustration, the authors hope to provide useful lessons for effective public space design not only for future world events, but also for high density cities.

Research Area(s)

  • World Expo, covered public space, Shanghai, Osaka, Hanover