The architectural challenge was the construction of a temporary pavilion to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1958 Universal World Exhibition in Brussels. The space was dedicated to various film projections and exhibitions open to the public recounting the sights, sounds, and mood of the original event.

The pavilion was positioned to face the iconic Atomium building, built for the original exhibition. It was located on the roundabout below this symbolic building, purposely to be in the middle of a circle of cars and pedestrians. The projection room is surrounded by an exhibition space propitious for a fluid and contemplative wandering. The building's facade and the exhibition space create a filter between the real outside world and an imaginary inner world of the projection room.

We desired the contents of the pavilion to ask, 50 years later, what the notions of progress, universalism and happiness had brought in their time through the system of international exhibitions, and how could a package building be enrolled in the parentage of an architectural solution that manages to convey the architectural questions of a given period in time.

Understanding that the sense of the temporary can only be truly successful when it is free of waste, the pavilion is built using an everyday and ephemeral component which after the event returns to its normal daily use. This project was an exercise in how a common item can transcend itself and become architecture, rather than a mere object or even a mere building.

With the constructive principles of universality and reusability, we decided to use a material extracted from the daily life of an ordinary consumer. Hence, a plastic beer crate is used as a generic element - like bricks, but deployed beyond its individual characteristics. This allowed us to explore many common architectural features such as columns, arches, and domes, combining together to form a huge and enigmatic interior environment. After an initial estimate, about 33,000 empty crates were necessary to construct the pavilion. The selection of this material allowed us to reduce the time of assembly and disassembly and produce a series of spaces that far exceeds the mere accumulation of common elements in an architectural format.

Client : Atomium asbl

Place : Brussels, Be

Architecture : Shin Bogdan Hagiwara, Thierry Decuypere, Jorn Aram Bihain (V+)

Structure : BAS

Museography : Place Publique

Scenography : Shin Bogdan Hagiwara, Thierry Decuypere, Jorn Aram Bihain (V+)

Lighting : Jacques Fryns

Signage : Speculoos

Security : Emerco

Photography : Serge Brison

April 2008