Published  02/09/2002

Switzerland invites the world

Switzerland’s Expo’02 centres on the environment of the region of the Three Lakes, in the north-west tip of Switzerland that coincides with the boundaries of France and Germany. At Murten-Morat, Jean Nouvel was commissioned to design all the actual pavilions. Nouvel confronts the centuries-long calm of this community, at a town once famous as the site of the key battle won by the Swiss against the Hapsburgs, a kind of Swiss battle of Hastings, but victory not defeat. The Swiss organisers have selected major international names, such as Diller + Scorfidio (New York) and Coop Himmellau from Vienna. French architect Nouvel’s own ‘Monolith’ of steel floats enigmatically on Lake Morat. But where are talented Swiss architects such as Peter Zumthor or Tate Gallery architects Herzog and de Meuron, or Gigon and Guyer, fresh from the success of the Historical Park at Kalkriese in Germany? The cost of the Expo was 600 million. This may be the last great international exhibition of its kind. There are no free lunches, of course, and one wonders at the real agenda here. Swiss architects should have got in with a slice of the action. The exhibition closes on 20 October.

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