Projekte > Expo '95 > Status Report

Expo '95
Vienna und Budapest
Status Report

Presentation to the Executive Committee Bureau International des Expositiones (BIE)by

Dr. Gerhard Feltl 
Member of the Executive Board Expo Vienna AG 

What follows is a report on an extraordinary case. It deals with a project which is somewhat out of tune with the modern age in which risks are shunned, security is everything and guarantees for success are demanded. The project in question is the 1995 World's Fair in Vienna and Budapest.

The basis for the preparation of the project was the declaration of intent by Austria and Hungary to co-host a World's Fair in 1995. The government declaration to that effect was signed by Federal Chancellor Dr. Franz Vranitzky and the then chairman of the Hungarian Council of Ministers, Karoly Grosz, on 29 September 1987. 

The improved climate between East and West is the result of the liberalization and democratization process in Eastern Europe, the agreement over disarmament, perestroika and glasnost, as well as the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. It is our hope that the opening of the East will be a permanent feature of European life in the future. 

A major event like the proposed World's Fair is a landmark in this historic process. It is out of this East-West cooperation that a political, cultural and economic dynamism might arise which, in turn could lead to an ongoing dialogue among nations in the future, one of the objectives laid down in the CSCE Final Act. 

This would be the most beautiful proof since the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 that Vienna and Austria are indeed bridges linking nations. "Danube region", "Central Europe", "United Europe", "Europe's new house" are but some of the catchwords testifying to the realization that the continent's division into camps and blocs has come to an end. 

A World's Fair affords us an opportunity to invite the world at large. In addition, as a modern Western country enjoying a special historical and geographical position in Central Europe, we can demonstrate our willingness and readiness to assume a significant role in shaping the future of our continent. Austria is a nation with distinct identity of its own, about to celebrate its millennial. We intend to demonstrate our intellectual and regional diversity, as well as our good neighbourly relations with other European countries. 

However, the impetus which the Vienna/Budapest World's Fair may provide on an international level presupposes at a similar national impetus, in the form of a quest for new horizons and a feeling of optimism in Austria. This will require a definition of the tasks our country has to fulfill in Europe, and a broad-based intellectual, scientific, cultural and economic offensive. 

One of the major challenges Europe faces is the creation of a single market and the desired integration of Austria into the European Community. The second major challenge might be the 1995 World's Fair, planned to take place in Vienna an Budapest, and the role we thereby wish to play in East-West relations. 

The questions to be answered pertain to: 

-        the content and objectives of the World's Fair,

-        the site and its design,

-        urban planning and traffic policies and the relevant measures to be taken,

-        the cost and financing (including post-EXPO uses) as well as

-        the terms of cooperation with Hungary. 

The World's Fair, however, will not only be a global challenge to Austria, but a challenge to Vienna, the country's capital. 

Every city needs to find symbols and take meaningful action in order to develop self-confidence in interacting with the world at large. 

These symbols, which help cities and their national and international partners to orient themselves, include major events like Olympic Games or World's Fairs. 

Such events may become part of a positive, forward-looking urban identity, and therefore contribute to a new feeling of self-esteem. 

Every World's Fair is both a vehicle  and an opportunity for a renewed interest in international affairs. It is only through a climate of change and through the willingness to be actively involved in shaping the urban future that modern cities will be able to meet the challenges of tomorrow's world. 

This is also one of the demands voiced in the Charter on European Cities, signed on 3 November 1987 in Vienna by the Mayors of Hamburg, Munich, Zurich and Vienna. "In view of the excessive interference in the life of cities, it is easy to understand why many citizens are opposed to change. But cities will become stunted if all you do is preserve. Small steps on a small scale alone do not suffice." 

The proposed World's Fair will enable Vienna to take a major stride forward. In order for it to be in the right direction, an accurate definition of objectives is required. The political effect might be closer ties between Vienna and the provinces in the west of Austria, in part resulting from the involvement of the provinces in the preparation of the World' Fair, and their participation. Internationally, the desired objective might be to communicate that Austria is a dynamic part of Europe, a bridgehead to the former Eastern European bloc. The World's Fair itself is to be seen a as manifestation of improved East-West relations. 

To organize a World's Fair is to cross frontiers, rekindle the imagination, tap technological resourcefulness and reactivate the ability to solve the problems of our times. Arts and sciences, economy and technology, young people and life in general are on a quest for roots and fundamentals, for perspectives, visions and ideas. The World's Fair must address these demands. 

At the same time these objectives represent a great chance for us. 

Never before has a World's Fair been organized in two cities at the same time. Against the background of a rapprochement between East and West, between the EEC and COMECON, the World's Fair will be a breathtaking event of Olympic scope. 

Naturally, very peculiar challenges will arise from a World's Fair taking place in two cities which share much of their history. Although a mere 250 km apart from each other and situated on the same river, they were separated by the Iron Curtain for many decades in the not-so-distant past. 

The economic, logistical and organizational aspects have been closely investigated in a feasibility study conducted by the American consulting firm Bechtel Corporation. 


The Current Status of Preparation 

In accordance with the Paris Convention of 1928, to which Austria is a signatory, World's Fairs are awarded by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE). 

The ultimate political responsibility for the 1995 World's Fair in Austria will be borne by the Steering Committee, which is composed of four representatives of the Federal Government and four representatives of the City of Vienna. 

In conformity with a decision of the Vienna City Council of 17 October 1988, EXPO-VIENNA AG, the company handling the organization of the World's Fair, was established in the spring of 1989. The Federal Government and the Province of Vienna are equally represented in EXPO-VIENNA AG. Dr. Helmut Haschek was appointed Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Dr. Gerhard Feltl and Sigmund Krämer were nominated founding directors and serve as members of the Managing Board. In December 1989, EXPO-VIENNA AG moved into its offices to Renngasse in Vienna's first district. By year-end, the core of the EXPO team had been recruited, and at present EXPO-VIENNA AG employs a staff of 30. EXPO-BUDAPEST, the Hungarian counterpart of EXPO-VIENNA AG, will be established very shortly. Subsequently, a joint subsidiary of the two companies is to be set up. On the basis of a joint-venture agreement, it will be responsible for international marketing in all those areas where common Austro-Hungarian interests are involved. 

Hungary, for its part, has set up a committee of ministers, a parliamentary committee as well as a national committee composed of eminent representatives of public life to take charge of the preparations. 

At the governmental level, cooperation between Austria and Hungary has been institutionalized with the appointment of an "Austro-Hungarian Governmental Commission". 

On June 24-25, 1990, an "Austrian-Hungarian Symposium" took place, attended by 150 prominent representatives from Austria, Hungary and neighboring nations. It succeeded in defining the main elements of the Expo philosophy and establishing a common Expo language.  


The first joint decision concerned the date. The World's Fair will take place from April 29 to October 26, 1995. 

In 1995, Hungary will celebrate the settlement of the Magyars in the country 1,100 years ago, under the leadership of King Arpád. Austria in turn will commemorate the 50th anniversary of its re-emergence from the shambles of Hitler Germany as well as the 40th anniversary of the 1955 State Treaty, which led to the withdrawal of the occupation forces and the  restoration of sovereignty. Moreover, there are plans to harness the dynamism engendered by the World's Fair for the millennial celebrations in 1996 (marking the 1000th anniversary of the first recorded mention of the name Austria, or "Ostarrichi", in an official document). 

1995 will also witness a number of other interesting anniversaries: the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven 225 years ago; the "invention" of motion pictures 100 years ago; the 75th anniversary of the Salzburg Festival and the "Graphic Collection Albertina". 


The theme chosen for the World's Fair will have to live up to the following criteria: 

-        suitability for Vienna and Budapest,

-        credibility,

-        current interest both today and in 1995,

-        worldwide appeal,

-        a chance for the exhibitors to paint a multi-faceted picture of themselves,

-        compliance with the relevant BIE guidelines. 

Following intensive discussions as well as national and international studies, Vienna and Budapest have agreed on the theme "Bridges to the Future". 

Bridges, which both cities have spanned across the Danube in the course of history, lead to new stories; they are symbols of the myriad ways of presenting, at the ancient Danube crossroads, creative ideas which demonstrate a sense of responsibility for the future. 

"Bridges to the Future" is a subject which is deeply rooted in Austrian and Hungarian tradition. Moreover, it ties in with the subject of the 1992 Seville Exposition ("The Age of Discovery"), setting out on a voyage of discovery into the third millennium. 

No spheres of human life will be excluded. However, the World's Fair will focus on how to cope with the future. 

In this context, "bridge" also signifies "synthesis": opposites overcome constructive new developments in their stead; leading to a harmonious whole. 

Examples are: 

-        the reconciliation of nature and technology,
   of ecology and the economic system;

-        the interaction of business and culture;

-        the combination of the useful and the beautiful;

-        the balance between high tech and high touch;

-        the overcoming of the generation gap;

-        the resolution of the North-South conflict and

-        the cooperation among different social systems,
   which will continue in the world of 1995. 

The basic objective is to show the options open to mankind to overcome existing differences and meet the challenges of the future. It is this outlook that forms the principal dynamic element of the "Bridges to the Future" theme.  

The Site 

Vienna's application was based on the site chosen along the Danube next to the Austrian Conference Center. On 30 March 1990, the Vienna City Council adopted a master programme outlining urban development in those parts of the city in the proximity of the EXPO site. The Exposition site itself was chosen, compromising 50 hectares. On 21 April 1990, the first meeting of the jury of the International Architect's Competition was held. The competition is being organized by EXPO-VIENNA AG for the purpose of establishing construction and design concepts for EXPO '95 in Vienna, as well as their post EXPO use. 

The jury is composed of Federal Minister Dr. Erhard Busek and Executive City Councilor Dr. Hannes Swoboda, as well as 13 international and Austrian architects. 

Architects from Austria and Hungary, as well as Austrian Hungarian expatriates, are eligible to take part in the EXPO '95 International Architect's Competition. Besides 22 additional outstanding international architects have been invited to broaden the range of projects submitted. At the end of June 1990, EXPO-VIENNA AG launched a special competition for Austrian and Hungarian graduates of architecture, to involve the younger generation of architects. 

The competition began as scheduled on May 30, 1990. The deadline to submit proposals is late October 1990. In January 1991, the jury will examine the projects submitted, award the prizes and make a recommendation regarding further procedures in carrying out the project. 

With a view to further cooperation, it has been ensured that neither the partners to the project nor the two sites will be at a disadvantage. This means that the two sites 

-        must be equally attractive;

-        must have an equally interesting programme of events;

-        must be competitive in terms of pricing;

-        and must provide equal opportunity for all exhibitors. 

Furthermore, intensive discussions are being held with regard to optimal air, boat, road and rail services. The plan is to use high-speed trains (without stops at the border) between the two cities, and to provide an uninterrupted motorway link between Vienna and Budapest.  


Bechtel Corporation, the American EXPO consultants, carried out a project study in 1988, providing the first predictions of the expected number of visitors, the economic implications and the organizational requirements. At that time, Bechtel experts forecast 10 million visits for Vienna. During the six months the World's Fair will be open, the volume of spending is expected to reach nearly 6 billion Austrian schillings in Vienna and 18 billion forints in Budapest. 

In 1989, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research revised the forecast to 14.5 million visits for Vienna. Another in-depth study was commissioned in late 1989/early 1990, and carried out by Triconsult. Triconsult predicted some 20 million visits for Vienna alone. 

These visits may be broken down into: 

-        10.6 million visits by Austrians

-        1.7 million visits by foreigners vacationing in the provinces

-        1.9 million visits by foreigners from Western countries
    who come to visit Vienna

-        6.1 million visits by people from Eastern Europe. 

On the average, we expect about 110,000 visitors per day and between 160,000 and 180,000 visitors on peak days. 



Another major task of EXPO-VIENNA AG is to work out financing concepts with a high degree of private-sector involvement. Although infrastructural costs will be borne by the government, all of the operating costs and a maximum percentage of the buildings and facilities on the Exposition grounds will have to be financed through private-sector participation. Closely linked with the search for private investors is the search for solutions to the post-EXPO use issue. Proposals must be submitted to the Steering Committee by autumn 1990. 

Cost analyses have already been worked out by the "Kommunalwissenschaftliches Dokumentationszentrum (KDZ)" and the Institute for Economic and Social Research (IWS) in an input-output analysis, by Bechtel in a feasibility study, and by the Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) in yet another study. 

The KDZ has calculated that every billion spent in connection with the World's Fair will increase gross domestic production by AS 1.6 billion, creating 1,400 to 1,600 jobs. 

Bechtel Corporation expects 50 to 70 exhibitors for Vienna and Budapest. The number of sponsors is estimated at 20 to 30. 

During the event some 15,000 people will be working for the World's Fair in each of the two cities. If we include the suppliers, this means that some 50,000 people will be involved in the Exposition. 

In its study of the effects of EXPO '95 on the national economy, the Austrian Institute of Economic Research maintains that the project "constitutes a chance to develop and modernize the economic region, with the dynamicism emanating from that major event being felt not only in the Vienna area, but also in the rest of the country. "The study further elaborates that" on the basis of quantitative estimates, revenues of approximately AS 30 billion (at 1987 prices) may be expected, if we take into account expenses and growing demands on quality. Of these AS 30 billion, AS 6 billion will flow out of the country. The remaining domestic spending power (AS billion altogether) will result in a real net output of AS 16 billion in Vienna and AS 8 billion in the other provinces. 

According to the WIFO study, a comparison of current cost-benefit values for 1988, the year of reference, reveals, a minimum surplus of approximately AS 1 billion.



In planning and implementing such major events as World's Fairs it is of decisive importance to make available a variety of data and information within a minimum of time and in a ready-to-read fashion. EXPO-VIENNA AG is currently working out an EDP concept which meets the requirements of this mega-project in terms of both quality and performance. Imperative demands are: 

-     the hard- and software used must be capable of storing, managing and processing any   amount  of data in a multitude of ways;  

-     there must be uncomplicated, safe and swift communication between the users on the one hand and the various computers on the other;  

-     communication must also be possible with public institutions and authorities in Austria as well as abroad;  

-     the entire system must be capable of being adapted to new needs, i.e. it must permit   extension and adjustment.   

This complex EDP project was worked out with the generous assistance of IBM Austria and the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research in conjunction with the EDP Centre of the University of Vienna. 

Communications and Marketing 

A World's Fair is a marketing- and media-oriented event which has to make use of all national and international means of communication.

Thus, Austria and Hungary will develop a comprehensive communications and marketing concept in the course of 1990, in order to benefit from the unique opportunity afforded by the World's Fair to present the merits of the two countries in a single event of global advertising potential.

On 12 December 1989 an important preliminary decision was taken: within the context of an international competition, a jury unanimously ranked GREY first among all participating advertising agencies. 

The communications concept for EXPO '95 will include programmes for public relations activities and special events and will cover the tourist sector, corporate identity and promotion. A detailed strategy for the acquisition of sponsors and the marketing of rights will also be worked out. 

On June 5, 1990, an international competition for an EXPO logo was launched, to be completed by December 1990. A competition to find a mascot and another for a suitable EXPO jingle are in preparation.


Austria's Chances 

On 25 May 1989, the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) unanimously accepted the recommendation made by the Executive Committee in favour of the application of Vienna and Budapest. At the 106th General Assembly on 14 December 1989, the BIE definitively decided to award the 1995 World's Fair to Vienna and Budapest. 

The 1988 Exposition in Brisbane showed how much patient persuasion is needed to create a climate that will allow a World's Fair to be successful. In more than 2,000 individual events, the basis was laid for the ultimate, overwhelming approval in Australia. One politician commented at the time that "You have to have a lot of courage to be against the World's Fair now". The progress made-to-date in Vienna and Budapest in this respect is encouraging indeed: over the past three years more than 3,500 articles and reports devoted to EXPO '95 have been published. 

One of the major prerequisites for the success of the World's Fair has already been fulfilled in both Hungary and Austria: a positive attitude towards EXPO '95 among the population. Whereas only 44 % of all Austrians knew about the World's Fair in early 1988, the number had risen to 75 % by summer 1989 and is now at 79 % according to the most recent polls. Two years ago, 65 % of all Austrians said they were "in favour of" the Vienna/Budapest World's Fair, today already 80 % are in favour. Also the willingness to visit the World's Fair has seen quite an encouraging trend: five years before the opening as many as two thirds of all Austrians say they intend to visit EXPO. 

The latest representative opinion poll also suggests broad approval in Hungary. The results of the poll are the following: 91 % of all Hungarians have already heard or read about the 1995 World's Fair in Vienna and Budapest. 69 % of the Hungarians are "in favour" of the World's Fair in Budapest, while only 19 % are "rather against it" and a mere 9 % are "very much against it". 69 %expect the World's Fair to enhance Hungary's image. 81 % are convinced that EXPO '95 will result in closer cooperation between Austria and Hungary. These are the chief results of a representative opinion poll carried out in the first half of 1990. 

The positive data is all the more remarkable, because the people of Hungary are well aware of the problems the World's Fair will generate. Thus, 76 % think that although the World's Fair will impose a financial burden, it will also constitute a major political advantage for their country. 

World's Fairs were an invention of the 19th century and responded to the needs and potential of the time. They were the most important source of information on the latest technological achievements, scientific discoveries and cultural accomplishments. 

In the age of communication, World's Fairs have been divested of this task. We can no longer resort to a blind belief in infinite technological progress nor can we fall back on seemingly inexhaustible resources. The mark which World's Fairs leave on a country's social, political, economic, artistic and cultural life is, however, much larger than a superficial glimpse might suggest. 

It is this function as a provider of impetus that we need to develop, making the World's Fair a forum for new insights, critical spirit, enlightenment, a testing ground for experiments, exploration and the willingness to take risks. 

A small country will find itself unable to maintain its position in the interactive and interdependent world of tomorrow if it does not show intellectual curiosity, establish contacts with the outside world and foster open-mindedness among its inhabitants. The World's Fair affords an opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to see for themselves an open-minded, friendly, outward-looking Austria capable not only of improvisation but also of efficient organization, a country able to cope with the future. 

The cooperation and partnership with Hungary is tailored to the spirit of East-West détente and the hopes for peace which the world entertains at the turn of the millennium. 

Naturally, economic and planning considerations will be given priority, but they are not the only criteria governing the organization and, ultimately, determining the success of the project. The 1995 World's Fair will be measured above all by what it contributed to the Austrian identity: Was it retrospective or trail-blazing, did it hold out promise for a new European partnership, was it a dynamizing force with regard to the country's millennial and the new millennium? 

These will be the yardsticks of EXPO '95.