The History of World Expositions
Following a concept which had been developed by Georg Maw and Edward Payne for the 1862 London World Exposition, but not realised, Le Play proposed a temporary oval exhibition palace whose appearance would recall the Roman Colosseum. The building was not only intended to gather all themes and countries under one roof, but the semi-circles of the oval were also conceived as architectural abstractions of the northern and southern hemispheres.
The engineer Jean Baptiste Krantz was commissioned with the design and construction of the 490 metres long and 390 metres wide building, which was altogether to cover an area of 150,000 square metres. Léopold Hardy, Charles Duval and the young Gustave Eiffel assisted in the realisation of the plans. In order to avoid transport problems on the part of the exhibitors, and to ease access for the visitors to all parts of the exhibition, they dispensed with the idea of a multi-storeyed edifice, a concept which had not proved itself in the past. At the same time, this eliminated the problem of lighting on lower storeys and meant that all exhibitors could be offered space of equal status. After the government had handed over the Champ de Mars to the exhibition management in the summer of 1865, the area was first levelled in order to be able to erect the foundations of cement mortar and rubble grit. 1200 to 1500 labourers were employed on the building site every day. Cast iron pillars and wrought iron piles on the foundation walls formed the framework which supported the roof construction of glass and corrugated sheeting, which ensured an even and natural light in the halls. The ground plan was divided up into seven concentric bands of reducing breadth towards the centre, each of which accommodated a defined category of exhibits. The individual galleries were connected to each other by radial gangways which segmented the overall form equally into tart-like sections, whose number corresponded to the number of exhibiting nations. The wider “alleyways“ which formed the longitudinal and lateral axes, divided the oval into four sections which, in order to achieve better clarity, were designated as the French, English, German and Belgian Quarters.
As a visitor, one was therefore able to view a selected topic by keeping to a circular route, or, seen from the middle, view the varied and complete exposition of a single country by following the radial connection routes,. However, the system of order, which in its openness was striking on account of its clarity, assumed the equality of all participating nations and in addition a similarity of interests for certain product categories. But in practice, this even division of space could not be rigorously adhered to. And as a result, contemporaries wrote of their great disappointment in what they termed a downright "unavoidable disorder".
The main entrance was located at the side of the Pont d'Iéna and led through the large vestibule directly to the garden laid out by Lancelot and situated in the middle of the building: an open-air courtyard featuring a palm garden, fountains and sculptures, in which the visitors could relax in an oasis-like area of 5,100 square metres away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibition. A filigree garden pavilion served to present international currencies as well as units of weights and measures. And right in the middle of this massive panorama of human products, universal concepts were therefore topicalised, concepts which were the foundation of, among other things, communication or material exchange between people and cultural circles. Was this an indication of hope for the development of an international currency and system of measurement? Finally, in 1875, the international Office of Weights and Measures was founded in Paris.
The Paris World Exposition 1867
A Colosseum for the Encyclopaedia of all Human Activities - The Exposition Palace
|Year: 1867||City: Paris||Country: France|
|Duration: 1st April - 3rd November 1867|