World Exhibitions as laboratories for structural innovation


  • Bálint Kádár


Architecture since the industrial revolution has been determined by technological innovation more than ever before. To realise buildings with large-span structures or transparent coverings, high cost structures had to be developed and built. World Exhibitions - or Expos - are events originally held by nations to show their industrial, economic and cultural power. Due to the representative nature of these fairs, financial resources and innovative approaches are granted for structural and architectural experiments. This paper presents an overview of the main structural innovations of the past two centuries, selecting those first presented at Expos. The numerous innovations from prefabrication, great steel trusses, and transparent coverings to geodesic domes, membrane structures and steel coatings could only spread in different architectural situations, if these were successfully tested in the large-scale laboratories of World Exhibitions. The process is the same today, but the innovation is about green techno logies and computer aided production, rather than large span structures.


World Exhibitions, expo, large-span structures, structural innovation

Published Online


How to Cite

Kádár, B. (2011) “World Exhibitions as laboratories for structural innovation”, Periodica Polytechnica Architecture, 42(1), pp. 23–31.