The official showcase of the nations
International exhibitions and new urban architecture
“The expositions changed the medium through which Islamic architecture was introduced to the West from drawings and descriptions to actual buildings.” (Zeynep Çelik)
Architecture was a key component of the International Exhibitions, the grandeur of which had a significant effect on urban development. The Crystal Palace was an unprecedented innovation. Built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, with the interior decorated by the designer-architect Owen Jones, the building was a triumph of steel-and-glass architecture that made a marked impact on the evolution of architectural style and building methods. The concept of erecting a single building was gradually abandoned: for the Paris Exhibition held in Paris in 1855 an entire complex of buildings was constructed. All host countries aspired to significant Exhibition architecture as a symbol of modernity and cosmopolitanism, and in many cases, the architecture has endured as a symbol of the city. Many of the buildings erected for Exhibitions drew inspiration from Islamic architecture; similarly, contact with the West through World’s Fairs fostered the development of a “neo-Islamic” style in the Arab and Ottoman world.
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The official showcase of the nations

International exhibitions and new urban architecture
Communication and self-representation
Representation of the “other”
A view of the Crystal Palace

1851, Public domain

The Great Exhibition of the Works and Industry of all Nations, or the Great Exhibition of 1851, was a celebration of industrial design and technology. Held in Hyde Park, in Joseph Paxton’s pre-fabricated cast-iron-and-glass construction, the essential structure was extraordinarily innovative for the time.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
The official showcase of the nations
Temporary structures and presentation of national contexts
The diffusion of models and promotion of trade
West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions