The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.
Taking the “H” spot on the Expo Architects list is the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, acclaimed Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.
Renowned for her bold, curvaceous buildings that blend in with the local environment, one of Hadid’s most outstanding creations is the Bridge Pavilion, built for Specialised Expo 2008 Zaragoza.
Creating magnificent structures for Expos is not only a question of design, it is also one of overcoming obstacles, building under various constraints, and pushing boundaries in the use of innovative techniques and approaches. This is notably the case for Charles Girault, who took on the hefty task of coordinating three separate designs in order to build an enchanting palace of fine arts – the Grand Palais - for Expo 1900 Paris.
With its impressive glass nave rising between the Champs-Elysées and the Seine River, the Grand Palais was built following a long selection process in which it was decided to combine the three winning entries by Henri-Adolphe Deglane, Albert Louvet and Albert Thomas. Charles Girault was given the responsibility of overseeing and supervising the mammoth project – and reconciling the designs of all architects involved.
Following on from Gustave Eiffel, the A to Z of Expo Architects moves on to another groundbreaking designer who made waves for his original and bold creations: Richard Buckminster Fuller.
Perhaps as celebrated for his unbuilt projects as for the structures that saw the light of day, one of Fuller’s most iconic creations is World Expo 1967 Montreal’s United States’ pavilion, the largest geodesic dome at the time of more than half a sphere, today known as the Biosphere.
His most famous creation having just turned 130 years old, it is only natural that Gustave Eiffel occupies the “E” spot in the Expo Architecture series. Undoubtedly the most recognisable and the tallest Expo structure ever created, the Eiffel Tower – built for World Expo 1889 Paris – is not only an icon for Paris and France, it is also a symbol for World Expos.
The idea behind the Tower was first floated by Expo Organisers, who wanted a 300-metre tall welcome tower to greet visitors to the event which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French revolution. Among 107 proposals submitted, it was Gustave Eiffel’s innovative wrought-iron lattice design, developed by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, that was finally selected. The structure’s final design was concluded after contributions by architect Stephen Sauvestre, who added the iconic arches to its base.
Unique structures are one of the highlights of World Expos, and it is often among the national pavilions that some of the most striking buildings can be found. Such is the case for Haim Dotan’s curvilinear pavilion, designed for Israel at Expo 2010 Shanghai, which takes the “D” spot in the Expo Architecture series.
Renowned for his cutting-edge styles and techniques, Israeli-American architect, urban designer and poet Haim Z. Dotan designed the 1,200m2 pavilion with the theme “Innovation for Better Life”, responding to the Expo theme, “Better City, Better Life”.
Among the creations of Santiago Calatrava, more than one have been designed for Expos. Already in 1992, the Spanish architect and structural designer created the iconic Puente del Alamillo and Kuwait's unique pavilion for World Expo 1992 Seville. A treat will also be in store at World Expo 2020 Dubai, where Calatrava has designed the host country’s 15,000m2 falcon-inspired national pavilion, currently under construction.
But the "C" selection in the Expo Architects series opts for undoubtely one of the most visited of Calatrava's creations: the grandiose Gare do Oriente railway station, opened as the main entrance hub for Specialised Expo 1998 in Lisbon.
Following on from Tadao Ando, the A to Z of Expo Architects continues with another Japanese Pritzker laureate: Shigeru Ban.
A pioneer in the development of temporary buildings for disaster victims, Ban teamed up with Frei Otto to create a unique pavilion for Japan at World Expo 2000 Hannover: one of the world’s largest paper-tube structures.
As more and more countries reveal their pavilion designs for Expo 2020 Dubai, a look back at architectural creations from past Expos offers many inspirational and intriguing designs. With thousands of architects having shaped the history of structures and the built environment by designing bold pavilions, structures and sites for Expos, it is impossible to sufficiently highlight them all. Instead, each week will see a new post for each letter of the alphabet, offering a snapshot of 26 selected figures in the world of architecture.
With 600 days until Expo 2020 Dubai, more than 20 countries have unveiled the design of their pavilions.
Here’s an overview of what has already been announced, offering a preview of how each country will interpret the theme of Expo 2020: “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” as well as the three subthemes: Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability.
The XXII Triennale di Milano, themed “Broken Nature: Design Takes on Human Survival” will open to the public on 1 March 2019. In an interview with the BIE, the President of the Triennale di Milano Foundation, Stefano Boeri, and the Curator of the XXII Triennale, Paola Antonelli, explain how this 22nd edition will explore the role of design in addressing the compromised bonds that connect humans to the natural environment.
Star architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, born in Espirito Santo on 25 October 1928, turns 90 today. Opening his Sao Paolo office in 1955, Mendes da Rocha quickly established himself as an architect of the Paulista school, which contrasted sophisticated engineering with a ‘rough’ finish.
It was this approach that saw Mendes da Rocha chosen to design Brazil’s pavilion at World Expo 1970 Osaka, a creation that served as a springboard for his career.
Eighty years ago today, some seven months before the opening of Expo 1939 New York, a time capsule was buried in the middle of the Expo site. The instructions were clear: it was not to be dug up until the year 6939 – some 5,000 years later.
The bold time capsule project was an initiative of Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, with the aim of presenting a snapshot of the era while paying tribute to the Expo’s theme “The World of Tomorrow”. The electrical company aimed to immortalise life in the 1930s, based on the latest technologies and inventions of the era. By doing so, the highly publicised event was also familiarising people with the ‘modernity’ in which they lived.
For participating countries, World Expos are major platforms for national branding, offering a unique opportunity to showcase themselves to a large public audience. With almost two years until the next World Expo in Dubai, the BIE interviews Ambassador Nicolas Bideau, Head of Presence Switzerland, Dietmar Schmitz, Commissioner General for Germany at Expo 2020 Dubai, and Dr. Jian (Jay) Wang, director of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, to gain three different insights into nation branding at World Expos.
Seattle’s iconic Space Needle – built as the centrepiece of World Expo 1962 – recently unveiled a dramatic $100 million “spacelift”, notably featuring a revamped observation deck and the world’s first revolving glass floor. On this occasion, the BIE interviewed Knute Berger, consulting historian at the Space Needle and Seattle-based author, journalist and commentator.
Belgium celebrates this year the 60th anniversary of World Expo 1958 in Brussels. On this occasion, the BIE interviewed Henri Simons, Director of the Atomium and ADAM – Brussels Design Museum, who explains how this event has marked several generations and why it is still so popular today.
10 years ago today, Spain welcomed the world to Specialised Expo 2008 Zaragoza, the first of its kind. Over three months, the event gathered over five million visitors for an immersive journey into the theme “Water and Sustainable Development”, highlighting the issue of managing the Earth’s scarce resources and presenting solutions for the future.
The event was a watershed moment for the capital of Aragon, transforming the city’s riverbank and reinforcing its status as a global centre on water management. A decade later, a range of cultural events are being organised to commemorate the experience of Expo 2008, while also looking towards the ways in which the Expo’s physical and intangible legacy can be promoted.
On 7 June 2008, the Third Millennium Bridge was inaugurated in Zaragoza, Spain, connecting the city centre to the site of Expo 2008, which opened to the public the following week. Spanning 279 metres across the Ebro River, the bridge is one of the largest infrastructure projects that accompanied the Expo, and remains, 10 years later, the largest of its kind in the world.
After 35 months of construction, the bridge’s prominent arch – reaching 25 metres above the deck - created a new addition to Zaragoza’s cityscape, while providing Expo visitors with a brightly lit focal point when returning home in the evening.
Expos are blank canvasses for innovative structures and architectural concepts, giving new and established architects the opportunity to design memorable pavilions. One such architect is Karl Schwanzer, the celebrated Austrian architect who was born 100 years ago today.
A major figure in post-War architecture, Karl Schwanzer first made the headlines for his native country’s national pavilion at Expo 1958 in Brussels. This success was followed nine years later when he designed not only Austria’s pavilion at Expo 1967 Montreal, but also the Expo’s on-site Vienna Kindergarten.
20 years ago today, as the Portuguese capital was preparing to open Expo 1998, Gare do Oriente was inaugurated. At the core of the redevelopment of Lisbon’s eastern neighbourhood, the opening of the ultra-modernist train station on 19 May 1998 was a milestone for Portuguese architecture and one of the final steps in the preparation of Expo 1998, which welcomed its first visitors only three days later.
For the millions of visitors coming to Lisbon for the first time to visit the Expo, the new station, designed by celebrated Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, was a bright and modern point of arrival.
World Expos are often known for their architecture and inventions, but they are equally as remarkable for the cultural innovations that they foster. One such innovation made its debut 60 years ago today, when the Czechoslovak pavilion at Expo 1958 Brussels first staged Laterna Magika, creating a sensation in the world of theatre that continue to this day.
Initially called Non-stop revue as it played all day long, the show, directed by Alfréd Radok (also the director and manager of the National Theatre of Prague) and scenographer Josef Svoboda, depicted everyday life in Czechoslovakia. The directors were notably assisted by a young scenario writer, who went on to become globally-acclaimed film director Milos Forman.
On 5 April 1968, San Antonio opened the gates to Specialised Expo “Hemisfair ’68”, which marked the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding. The event, which gathered 6 million visitors under the theme “The Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas”, was a key moment for San Antonio, transforming the heart of the city.
This weekend, within the framework of its tricentennial celebrations, the Texan city commemorates 50 years of the Expo that celebrated cultural diversity across the western hemisphere. Demonstrating the Expo’s lasting impact, the anniversary is being marked by a range of activities within the former Expo site – HemisFair Park – and a number of buildings dating from the event, most notably the emblematic Tower of the Americas.
Le 10 juin 2017, « Artistes & Robots » faisait ses premiers pas au sein de l’Exposition Spécialisée d’Astana au Kazakhstan. Dans un univers virtuel et interactif, des installations générées par des logiciels informatiques et des robots conçus par des artistes traduisaient l’énergie créatrice et interrogeaient les visiteurs quant à la définition d’une œuvre et à l’avenir de l’Homme.
Après Astana en 2017, « Artistes & Robots » fait son entrée à Paris, à partir du 5 avril, au Grand Palais.
On 29 March 1998, the Vasco da Gama bridge was opened in the Portuguese capital, marking a key step in the modernisation of Lisbon as it geared up to host Expo 1998. Named after Vasco da Gama, who 500 years earlier became the first European to reach India by sailing around Africa, the 17km structure celebrates today its 20th anniversary.
The bridge was officially inaugurated by President Jorge Sampaio in a ceremony marked by a military band and flyover, following an earlier event in which 16,000 Lisboetas gathered on a 5km section of the bridge to have lunch at the “world’s longest dining table.”
Brussels begins celebrations this weekend to mark the 60th anniversary of its favourite symbol and Expo 1958 icon, the Atomium.
The unique and impressive structure in Belgium's capital will be host to a range of events and activities to mark the special anniversary, allowing residents of Brussels and visitors to discover the impressive heritage of Expo 1958.
As Expo 2017 Astana draws to a close, the international participants are eager to learn who will win the Expo 2017 Official Participant Awards. At each Expo, an international jury assesses different aspects of the pavilions, recognising those that stand out.
At the last Specialised Expo, which took place in Yeosu (Republic of Korea) in 2012, a total of 24 gold, silver and bronze awards were handed out, split into four different categories according to the size of the country’s participation. Within each category, each pavilion could receive awards based on their development of the “Oceans and Living Coast” theme, or based on their creative display.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the French national day at Expo 1967 Montreal, a World Expo with the theme “Terre des Hommes” (Man and His World) which focused on mankind’s progress and innovations.
The theme of the French pavilion was “Tradition and Invention”. Among the exhibitions that were showcased were a model of the bathysphere “Archimede”, a colour television manufactured in France, and objects from Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s marine expeditions.
The World Opera Competition 2017 -“Operalia”, begins today in Astana as part of the wide-ranging cultural programme within the framework of Specialised Expo 2017. The prestigious annual event, which takes place in famous cities around the globe, will take place for the very first time in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, from 24-29 July, in the Astana Opera.
Founded in 1993 by renowned opera conductor and director, Plácido Domingo, “Operalia” is considered the opera equivalent of the Academy Awards, and is open to young artists aged 18-32 years old, who get an opportunity to benefit from Domingo’s personal experience and expertise. At Expo 2017 Astana, the 25th edition of the competition will feature 40 contestants from 17 countries, and will give four singers from Kazakhstan - soprano Maria Mudryak, tenor Damir Saduakassov and baritones Stanislav Li and Rasul Zharmambetov, the opportunity to represent their country at home.
An Expo is a unique place where we can learn from each other in a spirit of cooperation, and, where we can learn with each other, in a spirit of innovation. Expo 2017 Astana is a platform of education and exchange on “Future Energy”, where this complex subject is addressed by continued debate through meetings, conferences, forums and round table discussions.
The Future Energy Forum (FEF) is a key working event of Expo 2017, hosting a series of 12 dedicated conferences between 29 June and 5 September. Organised in the Expo Congress Centre under the banner of “Building the Future, Saving the Planet”, FEF provides a platform for the discussion of the key energy challenges highlighted within the Expo’s national, international and thematic pavilions. It is thus an opportunity to tackle strategic priorities and the key energy challenges that the planet faces: climate change, poverty, water access, and biodiversity.
Following its first appearance to the world at World Expo 1937 Paris, Pablo Picasso’s legendary “Guernica” has continued to captivate hearts and minds as one of the most powerful anti-war statement in the world.
Guernica’s first public appearance dates from 12 July 1937, when the Republican Spanish pavilion was inaugurated at the “International Exhibition of Arts and Technology in Modern Life” in Paris.
The seventh UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, is a global economic and social priority, as reflected by one of the three subthemes of Expo 2017 Astana: “Energy for All”.
In his opening message to Expo 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated the fact that “Energy is vital to our lives [...] Access to energy helps children to study at night, farmers to grow more crops and hospitals to provide better care.”
How can exhibits captivate minds and educate a large and varied audience on the subject of “Future Energy”? As a Specialised Expo, Expo 2017 Astana brings the challenges and issues around its theme to a large audience, an objective that is achieved through architecture, forums, meetings, displays and, importantly, by an array of techniques and new technologies that offer deep and dynamic experiences with the Expo 2017’s “Future Energy” theme.
Interaction is key. In Austria’s pavilion, visitors have the chance to interact with the exhibits themselves to measure the real power of energy by using their own bodies to produce energy. This involves pulling weights to spin turbines and pedalling on bikes to generate enough energy to power different screens, culminating in an impressive musical performance.
The vast cutural and entertainment programme is a major part of the Expo experience, with visitors spoiled for choice among the different shows, performances and spectacles on offer. Expo 2017 Astana proposes thousands of cultural activities throughout its three-month duration, with something for everyone.
Every night on the Expo site, the Amphitheatre hosts concerts from Kazakh and international artists and musicians, drawing crowds to a host of celebrations. The Expo Amphitheatre has already welcomed local star Dimash Kudaibergen and is to feature Dutch DJ Afrojack next week, among many others such as Steve Aoki on 29 July and the MTV Festival on 19 August. Additionally, numerous other venues in town are also hosting concerts such as Black Star on 8 July last night or Eros Ramazzotti next month, on 19 August.
Designed by prominent American architect duo Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill, Nur Alem, the stunning sphere at the centre of Expo 2017 Astana, is the largest spherical building in the world with a diameter of 80 metres.
The 5,000m2 ground floor houses the Kazakhstan national pavilion, introducing visitors to the host country and its vision of “Future Energy” firstly via interactive images of Kazakhstan’s geography and cultural traditions.
The sphere-shaped Kazakhstan pavilion designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill at the centre of the Expo 2017’s site is the latest addition to the city’s bold and diverse architecture, and its intellectual legacy will be a boost to the city’s striking status as contemporary and business capital of the country.
What is perhaps most astounding about Astana is the progress and development the city has made in just two decades. Originally Akmoly, the city was declared capital of Kazakhstan only in 1997, replacing Almaty in the south of the country. As a result, Astana is a planned city, straddling the right and left banks of the Ishim River.
Passports give us the opportunity to cross borders and discover new horizons, while keeping a record of our journeys throughout the world. As the first day of the "Week at Expo 2017" series, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Expo passports and their continued popularity to this day.
Organisers of Expo 1967 Montreal first issued Expo passports as a novel form of ticket, with a separate page for each participating country to encourage visits to as many pavilions as possible. Visitors could either purchase an adult passport, or a youth passport. Shaped like a small booklet, these “passports” were sold at the entrance to the Expo site, and have since become one of the most popular souvenirs for visitors who want to keep track of all the different pavilions they visit.
Sixty years ago, on 6 July 1957, the “Interbau” international building exhibition – Expo 1957 Berlin - opened its doors to the public in Berlin's Hansaviertel neighbourhood. The Expo transformed the area into the popular district it is today, leaving behind a variety of masterpieces of modernist architecture.
Today, Hansaviertel is a central residential district and a preserved architectural and garden ensemble of West German post-war modernity. The entire collection of buildings constructed as part of Interbau received landmark status in 1995, and it is still considered as an illustrative example of mid-20th century architecture.
Fossil-fuel dependant transport accounts for nearly one quarter of worldwide CO2 emissions linked to energy, and the trend is set to increase as access to different forms of transport becomes more widespread in developing countries. This raises questions over the future of mobility: how will people move around cities, around countries, and across oceans in the future, in a sustainable manner?
Looking to the future, a potentially revolutionary form of transport is set to be available for visitors to Expo 2020 Dubai, the next World Expo. According to developers’ plans, an integrated Hyperloop system will be ready by the opening of the Expo to transport people and goods at supersonic speeds between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The intertwined relationship between food and energy is a fundamental question when considering future energy and future food supplies. The cultivation, processing, storage, packaging and transport of food accounts for a major share of energy consumption worldwide, of which an estimated 79% comes from fossil fuels.
Expo 2015 Milan – organised around the theme “Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life” – was an opportunity to address this challenge, which by its very nature impacts all countries and all people. The Expo was a platform for participating countries to exhibit the latest technologies regarding the production and consumption of food, and dealing with food waste. Participants thus demonstrated how feeding a growing population can be achieved in a sustainable manner, for example by economizing on land use and minimizing the energy-intensive practices of large-scale agriculture.
Strategically-placed vegetation can cut energy consumption by up to 50% and play a crucial role in filtering atmospheric pollutants in a city. Urban greening – planting living, green walls or roofs, wherever possible in urban spaces and cities - has become the trend for overcrowded cities, seeking to conserve energy and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The concept, which has been around for over 2,000 years, combines nature and architecture, and has tremendous potential for improving energy efficiency in a city.
Imagine a house that generates all of its own energy, collects its own water and efficiently manages its waste system - an autonomous house. The technology for such self-sufficient homes, able to meet the pressing energy demands of the future, is available today, by using a combination of alternative energy sources such as geothermal energy, solar panels, wind turbines and hydropower.
A fully functional, working model of a self-sufficient home was showcased in the Oikos pavilion (meaning “house” in Greek) at Expo 2008 Zaragoza. Putting innovative solutions to the use of reduced energy and water consumption encapsulated the theme of the Expo – “Water and Sustainable Development.”
Fuel cells, a promising and virtually limitless energy source that can be used for various applications including transportation, portable appliances and stationary installations, were first discovered in 1839 by Sir William Grove. However, it is only in the past two decades that the technology has become a viable and practical solution. With water as its only by-product, fuel cell technology is in line to become one of the key next-generation solutions for Future Energy.
This forward-looking and eco-friendly technology, which involves an electrochemical process where hydrogen and oxygen are converted into water to produce electricity, was showcased at Expo 2005 Aichi in Japan via a fleet of specially designed buses.
Energy consumption in buildings accounts for over one third of final energy consumption globally. The OECD estimates that buildings account for more than 40% of energy consumption in developed countries, largely through electricity use.
Fortunately, buildings have the capacity to make a significant contribution to a more sustainable future, if energy-saving methods are integrated into their design. An early example of sustainable construction was showcased at Expo 1992 Seville, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The United Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 1992 embodied the concept of energy self-sufficiency by combining avant-garde architecture with the capacity to generate renewable energy such as solar power.
On 28 April 1967, the gates to Expo 1967 Montreal opened to the public, marking the start of a new and modern era for the city. The Expo, which celebrated 100 years of Canadian Confederation and 325 years since Montreal’s founding, was a major accomplishment for the city and for Canada.
During the six months that the Expo was open, 50 million people passed through the turnstyles, eager to discover the latest innovations and explore different interpretations of the theme “Man and His World” (in French: Terre des hommes).
Extreme weather conditions and rising global temperatures are leading researchers to reconsider unconventional solutions such as Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP), as envisioned by scientists since the 1960s. This would be the perfect solution to climate change because solar power captured in outer space would not be vulnerable to poor weather, have zero greenhouse gas emissions and be unaffected by day and night cycles, unlike 23% of current incoming solar energy.
This untapped potential for Space-Based Solar Power was revealed when Telstar 1 (the world’s first active communication satellite) was used to beam scenes from Expo 1962 Seattle and transmit the first intercontinental television broadcast. The sphere satellite was powered by 3,600 solar cells and weighed over 77 kilos. It was a joint project by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the British and French governments, which broadcasted a panoramic view of the striking Space Needle and other interesting sights and sounds from the Expo.
Nuclear energy is one of the largest contributors to electricity production across the world, and its importance is not set to diminish in the near future, despite the controversy that has always surrounded it.
The glorious nuclear future envisioned in the mid-20th century, with bountiful, cheap and safe energy supplies, is not exactly the reality of today. However, humanity’s continuous need for safe and affordable energy means that the search to unlock the power of the atom remains relevant to this day.
A quarter of a century after Seville welcomed the world for World Expo 1992, the Andalusian capital is gearing up to celebrate the anniversary of the event that was a watershed moment in the history of the city, the region and the country. With the support of Mayor Juan Espada, a 25th anniversary commission will, in partnership with Legado Expo Sevilla, organise over 30 activities between April and October 2017 to commemorate the Expo and to actively promote its legacy.
Marking the arrival of Spain as a democratic, European and proudly diverse country, Expo 1992 gathered 108 countries and international organisations, and received 42 million visits, higher than Spain’s population at the time. Organised under the theme “The Age of Discovery”, the Expo celebrated 500 years of Christopher Columbus’ famed departure from the city prior to the European discovery of the Americas. Seville has good reason to celebrate Expo 1992, an event that modernised the city, brought worldwide attention to Andalusia, and was a catalyst for the development of La Cartuja and the wider region.
The water-energy “nexus” – the intricate connection and special relationship between water and energy – has long been at the heart of humanity’s efforts to harness and manage energy for its own uses.
The importance of this nexus was already evident in 1939, when the Belgian city of Liège hosted a Specialised Expo under the theme “Water Management”, celebrating the completion of the Albert Canal.
Organised under the theme “World of Tomorrow”, Expo 1939 in New York celebrated the “Dawn of a New Day”, which was partly made possible by the electrification of the country. Increased access to safe and reliable energy in the first part of the 20th century lead to a wave of optimism and hope for a future shaped by technological prowess and societal changes.
In 1900, only around 2% of homes in the United States were electrified, but by 1939, this proportion had increased dramatically to approximately 70%.
Sustainable architecture and the passive house concept are undoubtedly subjects of priority among urban planners and architects in the 21st century. But long before concerns about reducing emissions and minimising energy use, one of the first concept homes integrating sustainable design was showcased at Expo 1933 in Chicago.
Built in the backdrop of the Great Depression, the House of Tomorrow, designed by American modernist architect, George Fred Keck, was presented at the “Century of Progress Exhibition”. It was a vision of what the future could offer and is considered as a pioneer in modern housing solar design.
The development of renewable energy alongside urbanisation and population growth has made the transmission of electricity a pressing issue for policymakers. Urban centres are often located hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the source of energy, and unlike fossil fuels, renewables cannot be transported. In response to this challenge, “supergrids” are being developed using specially built cables using direct current as very high voltages (HVDC), allowing large volumes of electricity to be efficiently transported over long distances.
The development of supergrids in the 21st century is the continuation of efforts since the dawn of the electric age to increase capacity and scale up access to electricity. As early as Expo 1904 in St. Louis, Chester H. Thordarson showcased a half-million volt transformer, winning a gold medal for the invention which he built in only 28 days. But it was not until Expo 1915 in San Francisco that Thordarson set the bar for electrical transmission when the public were introduced to the million-volt transformer, part of the High Tension Research Pavilion within the Machinery Palace.