2011-03-02 09:37:50

Expo '98 (in full, 1998 Lisbon World Exposition) was an official specialised World's Fair held in Lisbon, Portugal from May 22 to September 30, 1998. The theme of the fair was "The Oceans, a Heritage for the Future," chosen in part to commemorate 500 years of Portuguese discoveries. The Expo received around 11 million visitors in 132 days. 155 countries and organizations were represented.


The idea to organize a World's Fair in Portugal originated in 1989 between two Portuguese - António Taurino Mega Ferreira and Vasco Graça Moura - who were in charge of organizing the commemoration of the coming 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's arrival in India in 1498.

Once Government support was obtained, Ferreira led the bid to the Bureau of International Expositions, which in 1992 declared Lisbon the winner, against the other contender Toronto, Canada. State company Parque Expo was formed to make the Fair a self-sustained event, with revenue coming from admission tickets and, especially, sales of real estate and parcel lots at the Expo's emplacement.

The first Commissioner of Expo '98 (and Parque Expo's CEO) was António Cardoso e Cunha. He was replaced in 1997 by José de Melo Torres Campos, after a general election changed the governing party.

The area chosen for the Expo '98 was a 5 km (3.5 mile)-wide strip covering 50 hectares at Lisbon's east end alongside the Tagus river.

Expo '98 was fully built from scratch. Every building was pre-sold for after-Expo repurposing thus ensuring that, after the Expo closed, the site would not be left semi-abandoned, as had happened with previous expos, particularly Seville Expo '92

To support the expected flux of visitors, an extensive access program was devised, including:

* a new bridge across the river, the Vasco da Gama Bridge (the longest in Europe)
* a new line of the Lisbon Metro, with seven stations (five of which were ready for opening day)
* a new main multi-modal terminal, featuring trains, metro, buses, and taxis, called Gare do Oriente, architect Santiago Calatrava.


Expo '98 opened on May 22, 1998 with 141 countries and 14 international organizations featured in individual pavilions. Almost every exhibitor respected the Expo's theme "The Oceans: A Heritage for the Future".
Oceans Pavilion, now the Lisbon Oceanarium

There were additional thematic pavilions dedicated to Water, Sea Knowledge, Virtual Reality (paid), Future, Oceans, and Oceanophilia; and exhibitions: "Leonardo DaVinci@expo98- La Dinamica dell'Acqua", "Roads of the Porcelain", and "Shells and Man".

Additional attractions included: a 15,000-seat Utopia Pavilion with a resident theatrical show, Camões Theater, nautical exhibition, Garcia de Orta tropical gardens, Swatch Pavilion, "World of Coca-Cola" exhibition, Expo Adrenalin, 120 m-tall observation tower (paid) , funicular (paid), and nightly water-show Acqua Matrix.

One of the five major theme pavilions at Lisbon’s Expo 98, the Utopia Pavilion was among the most popular. Reflecting the Exposition’s overall theme of “The Oceans: a Heritage for the Future” and designed by the renowned François Confino and Philippe Genty, the pavilion featured a large-scale multimedia spectacle that presented the oceans as stimulators of imagery, taking visitors on a voyage from the creation of the world to the present day. Combining traditional stage technology with highly innovative special effects and mechanical controls, gsmprjct°intégration)handled all of the logistics and technical direction for the project.

Housed in a custom-built covered stadium with a seating capacity of 10,000, the show was performed over 500 times, making it the first time that a World’s Fair show was staged for over 3 million people.

The Oceania Virtual Reality Pavilion was the biggest hit of Lisbon’s Expo 98, attracting over half a million visitors in a four-month period. Despite being the only pavilion at Expo 98 that required an additional admission fee, people spent hours waiting in line for this breathtaking 30-minute thrill ride that made use of seamlessly integrated simulators, virtual reality visors, and interactive projections. The payoff was a virtual submarine voyage to an underwater base where visitors discovered the ruins of a lost civilization and encountered a sea monster before escaping back to the surface in Teleport capsules.

gsmprjct° was commissioned to design and produce Oceania, planning the look and feel of the overall experience, in addition to acting as project manager,architectural coordinator, and general contractor. Divided into several rooms, the pavilion featured a 45-person simulated submarine ride and 70mm film, a 3D stereoscopic viewing system with custom content, and custom-designed motion simulators with audio-visual content.

The Oceans Pavilion, built to be the Lisbon Oceanarium after the Expo closed, had the longest lines. Other popular pavilions, with lines of up to five hours on busier days, included Portugal (architecture by Álvaro Siza Vieira), Spain, Sweden, Germany, and Virtual Reality.

Total number of visitors reached 10,128,204, for a duration of 132 days. Admission prices (adult) were 5,000 escudos PTE ($34 USD at then-exchange rates) for one day, 12,500 escudos ($84) for three non-consecutive days, and 50,000 escudos ($334) for three months.

Logo and Mascot

The Expo logo symbolizes the Sea and the Sun. It was conceived by Portuguese Augusto Tavares Dias, creative director in an advertising agency, and selected from 1,288 entries.

The Expo mascot was conceived by the Portuguese duo of painter António Modesto and sculptor Artur Moreira. It was selected from 309 entries. It is named Gil, after Portuguese navigator Gil Eanes. The name was chosen by high-school student José Luís Coelho, from 765 entries.


Expo '98 closed its doors on September 30, 1998. The site remained closed until February 1999, when it reopened as "Parque das Nações" (Park of the Nations), a free-access park, keeping the gardens, Oceanarium (Europe's then largest aquarium), observation tower, funicular, and the Virtual Reality pavilion. Other buildings were repurposed for the opening, including:

* the main entrance (sun door), converted to Centro Vasco da Gama, a regional shopping mall (opened on April 27 1999)
* the main exhibition pavilions, converted to Feira Internacional de Lisboa (Lisbon International Exhibition Fair)
* Utopia Pavilion, converted to Pavilhão Atlântico, Lisbon's main multi-purpose indoor arena
* Knowledge of the Seas Pavilion, converted to Knowledge Pavilion, a hands-on science museum
* another exhibition pavilion, converted to a bowling alley, but subsequently demolished
* Future Pavilion, now the Casino Lisboa.

Within Parque das Nações, every other building or vacant parcel lot was sold for office or living space, to offset the Expo's costs. The Virtual Reality Pavilion is currently scheduled for demolition.

The area today is thriving, modern, stylish, and safe, attracting 18 million tourists a year to its gardens, museums, commercial areas and modern buildings. It has also become permanent residency for up to 25,000 people and one of Lisbon's premier business centers, with many multinational corporations basing their headquarters in its main avenue.

Parque Expo has lived beyond Expo '98, not just being still the manager of Parque das Nações but, having acquired the know-how in urban conversion and planning, sells its advising and consultancy services to other cities around the world.



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