Expo 98

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jorge Figueira


tradução português-inglês: rafael Saldanha Duarte


1 Álvaro Siza, Pavilhão de Portugal.1
1 Álvaro Siza, Portuguese Pavilion.1

Expo’98, the world Exposition that took place in Lisbon,
was essentially an operation of urban regeneration. the
eventitself took place successfully between May 22 and
September 30. But from the outset it was also understood
as an opportunity for rehabilitation of a large degraded
area in the eastern city. the festivities would allow regeneration of the site and “opening” the city to the tagus rive,
known there as the Mar de Palha a recurring intention in
Lisbon since the 1980s. thus it is an operation with ashort
duration – that of the Exposition itself – and a long duration – which in the twelve years since then allows some
conclusions to be drawn.
Expo 98 allowed reconversion of a port area full of
industrial waste, storage areas and obsolete materials,
providing a city with new cultural, commercial and rail
infrastructure as well as new housing areas. In this broader
sense the objectiveswere achieved. But as we will see the
operation has its limitations and its critics. Firstly, a certain
democratic idea that Expo’98 could lead to a more open
and global redevelopment of this area of the city did not
come true. there is on the contrary a certain trend towards
“condominium” or even “ghetto” in a more radical version
of what was understood to be the driving force of a moregeneral and open process of urban regeneration.
By reflecting the urban culture of the period and also
faced with the problems of the aftermath of the 92 Seville
Universal Exposition, Expo 98 set great store on the idea
of city making. the preference in Lisbon was that the festivities did not have the same fairytale quality of Seville, in
exchange for greater post-Expo animation. the assumptionof the whole venture is that once the Exposition is
closed, the site could be transformed into an ordinary city,
although anchored into special facilities) In other words, to
shift from a special – festive – period to one of normality.
It might moreover be said that this emphasis on the aftermath perhaps helps to explain the fact of visitor numbers
falling short of expectations. Interestedparties do not visit
the “post”-...
According to the commissioner, António Mega Ferreira,
the chosen theme, “the oceans. A heritage for the future”,
and the approach towards it allowed, a, the beginning
of a new generation of World Fairs, where the political
and cultural nature of the event was imposed on the more
“commercial” tradition:

“a proposta de Lisboa desenvolve-se tendo como panode
fundo a consciência dos problemas levantados pela exploração sistemática dos recursos oceânicos (…) e a necessidade
de se encontrar (…) soluções que acautelam o equilíbrio global do planeta” (Mega Ferreira, 1996: 9).

“the Lisbon proposal develops against a backdrop of
awareness of the problems raised by systematic exploitation
of ocean resources (...) and the need to find (...) solutionsfor
safeguarding the overall equilibrium of the planet]. (Mega
Ferreira, 1996: 9).


A Expo’98, Exposição Mundial que teve lugar em
Lisboa, foi centralmente uma operação de reconversão urbana. O evento, propriamente dito, ocorreu com
sucesso, entre 22 de maio e 30 de setembro. Mas desde
o início, o evento foi entendido como uma oportunidade
para arequalificação de uma vasta área degradada, na
zona oriental da cidade. A festa iria possibilitar uma regeneração do território e “abrir” a cidade para o rio tejo,
aí conhecido como Mar da Palha, um desígnio recorrente
em Lisboa desde os anos 1980. Nesse sentido, é uma
operação que tem um tempo curto – o da Exposição propriamente dita – e um tempo longo – este que a doze anos
de distância já...