“In Belgium, there was nothing ahead after the Expo. (…) The World’s Fair meant a peaceful war, so to speak. When it broke out, a new era was here to stay. This would be known as the era of consumption: 1958 was a break year, an earthquake, an earth shift in Belgian history.”
Eric De Kuyper, Grand Hotel Solitude
Expo 58 had to achieve a balance between a world that had just come through war and one mapping out a modern, peaceful era. To the Belgian government, this was an outstanding opportunity to show how well post-war Belgium was doing. The World’s Fair was an outstanding success, and is still influencing our society in many ways. By the time it closed, the Fair had attracted 42 million visitors; 80 % of all Belgians visited Expo 58. At the Heysel, they found a new world, and a new architecture.
The rang of different pavilions at the Expo reflected the great architectural debates of the time: experimenting with new structures, forms and materials; popularising modern architecture; a tendency to put the spotlight on Man, his body and sensory perceptions; renewed attention to confrontation with historical building ideas and elements of local building traditions.
For a more human world brings together seventeen essays on both the actual architecture itself and different aspects of post-war society. After Expo 58, Belgium was indeed ‘not like it was before. This was particularly apparent from city and architecture: high-rise structures, new materials and methods, cheerful and dynamic forms like a Trojan horse, the Expo smuggled modern architecture into the country.