IF YA’ DON’T KNOW, NOW YA’ KNOW
By John M. Stuart
’70 World Expo, Osaka Japan
The ‘70 World’s Expo was presented at Suria, Osaka, Japan from March 15 to September 13th. There were 64 million attendees and 77 countries were represented at the event. Peace, harmony and progress among all the nations was the theme of this Expo. It is ironic that this Expo’s theme of global cohesiveness came at a time when the United States had just sent the first manned space craft to the moon, passing its arch enemy, the Soviet Union in the highly competitive space race. Despite contentions, both superpowers had pavilions at the Expo in attempts to demonstrate that their strength was superior when it came to integrating into a new world of technological advancement
In carrying through the theme of peace and wisdom proliferating throughout all nations, Expo designers created a public space, known as the Festival Plaza where people could collectively come together in a marketplace of new ideas and creativity. This public space, with its themed pavilions, replaced the usual exposition atmosphere with one that was festive, lending itself to the spirit of global celebration. The roof covering Festival Plaza was intended to entice people to congregate in a central meeting area, symbolizing unity and global cooperation .
The Expo’s chief architect, Kenzo Tange likened his design to a giant tree with flowers blossoms. Each themed pavilion were the beautiful flowers. The walkways leading to each of these unique structures were the branches while the Festival Plaza was the trunk were all growth emanated.
No World Expo would be what it is without the wide array of attractions presented by the participating countries. In showing its triumph in the race for space, the United States Pavilion proudly displayed the moon rock brought back from the 1969 Apollo mission to the moon . This Expo also premiered the IMAX technology that still is considered cutting edge more than 40 years later.
The West German pavilion had a more understated approach with a dramatic presentation of the world’s first spherical concert hall designed by Fritz Bornermann. The pavilion’s theme, “garden of music” was a living spectacle with its sprawling green lawns and gardens centered around the auditorium or state of the art spherical concert hall positioned to look as if it was organically growing up from the ground. The works to the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Luwid Beethoven from a multi-track tape. The main feature included a live performance of Stockhausen’s musical works. The 19 piece ensemble performed 182 days for five and a half hours every day to a total of a million audience members.
Today, all that remains of World Expo ‘70 is Expo Commemoration Park. The park’s center point is the still intact, Tower of the Sun, designed by Kenzo Tange. While most of the pavilions have been demolished, part of Festival Plaza still remains and in 2004, the art pavilion has been relocated downtown Osaka, Japan and is the permanent site of the National Art Museum.