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Expo.02 Forum Arteplage 

The Towers of Biel and Open Architecture: The Power and the Freedom 

Sketch by Wolf dPrix

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Coop Himmelb(l)au

Project info

Towers have always been regarded as signs of power and symbols of freedom. They are also architectural archetypes, erotic signals of the human desire to be the monarch of all I survey” – as shown in the parable of the Tower of Babel.

The design concept for the Expo.02 was orientated on the strategies of urban construction, in order to create outstanding points of reference for further developments. All functional preconditions were integrated into a master plan of urban planning, thus enabling the designers to react to any changes in a flexible way. The site of the great exhibition has been conceived as a roofed platform jutting out over the lake, ending in a space with three towers. Its resemblance to an aircraft carrier is not a matter of coincidence but fully intended. Underneath the roof, the platform lends itself to all kinds of uses and gives room to the exhibition pavilions – just like the buildings of a town. The towers are seen as giant signs by day and experienced as sculptures of sound and light by night, thus emphasizing the vivacious transistor-like character of the Expo.02.

Temporary Exhibition Building and Installation

The artificial platform covers a site of approx. 16.000 m² and offers its stage to four exhibitions, two polyvalent spaces as well as restaurants and bars, four meters above the water surface of Lake Biel. The towers are twisted steel constructions covered with layers of zinc dust, reaching a height of 35 to 43 meters and housing activity spaces along with event stages, as well as an escape route to the connecting bridge. The roof is held in place 16 meters above the platform by steel buttresses, but it is really supported by a wooden structure.The outer layer stretching across the primary construction consists of a kind of grid foil stretched over a frame and inserted like a panel.A spiral ramp, the Helix”, links the platform to the bridge and the exhibition sites on the mainland, thus enabling visitors to experience vertical space. All constructions and materials have been conceived and chosen for their later re-usability.

Project insights

Location
Biel, Switzerland
Client
Schweizerische Landesausstellung Neuenburg, Switzerland
Start of planning
1999 
Start of construction
2000 
Completion
2002 
©

Roland Halbe

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Gerald Zugmann

©

Gerald Zugmann

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Neeser

©

Gerald Zugmann

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