Organization: Federal Republic of Germany
The Pavilion is a bold breakthrough in 20th century architecture, a radical change from conventional steel-skeleton and curtain-wall construction.
Architects Frei Otto and Rolf Gutbrod have conceived the Pavilion’s structure as a “great hull hovering like a cloud over a piece of man’s earth.” Its fantasy of forms does not diminish its practicality. It is meant to continue, even in operation, as a multi-million dollar research project that would be completed only by the visitor’s own participation.
Hung by technology
From afar, the Pavilion seems to move like a schooner across a placid lagoon. Its tent-roof of steel-and-plastic, “hung by technology,” spreads over a 2-acre expanse of wooded landscape. An aura of mystery, adventure and excitement of tomorrow has met one of the most-photographed and talked-about structures in the world today.
It suggests an ideal application to hung urban complexes, shielding within a park-like landscape an entire residential area of homes, shopping plazas, transport centers, recreation areas and swimming pools for all-weather use.
It took 40,000 hours to develop the Pavilion experimentally, but only 6 weeks to erect it in Montreal after having been shipped from Germany in huge packing cases. Its vast interior needs no lighting by day. The space rises and falls on different levels in a landscape of sculptured forms and 3-dimensional exhibits that invite a leisurely stroll.
From yesterday into tomorrow
Once inside, you see no separating walls. Light flows evenly through the translucent roof skin; the sky is visible through odd-shaped plastic windows; winds and drafts are eliminated by glass screens that surround the structure.
The exhibits – dealing with the scope and sweep of the country’s achievements over the centuries and into tomorrow – grow upwards through the various levels. You may come upon the table on which the physicist Otto Hahn discovered in 1938 that the uranium atom is fissionable. Or you may peer into the German-built bathyscaph in which the Swiss scientist Auguste Piccard explored the ocean depths. Or be intrigued by the motor of the future already here today – the Wankel engine. Or watch the 15th century Gutenberg press print a page of the bible, a souvenir you may take with you.
All of these are integrated into the design of the Pavilion’s exterior and interior, projecting Expo 67’s theme philosophically as well as technologically. Here, for example, is a 2,000-year old Roman gravestone unearthed in Cologne. There-the first American bible in German (1743) produced by a printer in Pennsylvania. Here, too, is the first X-ray apparatus, the first internal combustion engine, a very early Daimler-Benz car, the first mass-produced Leica and the Zuse III, forerunner of today’s computer. Also shown are they counterparts-today’s Betraton, the new Porsche Carrera, or the Contarex used by U.S. astronauts in the first space walk.
The physical version of this product is part of the federal identity archive.