In recent years, there has been increased interest in the idea of promoting urban development and renewal through the hosting of major events. This approach offers host cities the possibility of ‘fast track’ urban regeneration, a stimulus to economic growth, improved transport and cultural facilities, as well as enhanced global recognition and prestige. Many authors attribute the increased importance of event-led development to wider transformation in the global economy, or globalization. However, event-led development has a long history and can be recognized, for example, in the World Fairs of the nineteenth century, right through to the World Exposition held every one to four years. The shift has been from initially showcasing technologies of agriculture and arts industries during the past to becoming a tool for development itself in the form of urban renewal. Thus, as times change, the World Fairs have altered from programs and themes to spectacle and entertainment: or, in another perspective, the event has been used to fit the commercial needs of the city at that particular time.
The World Expositions, the world’s most famous international trade fairs, have been held for over one hundred years with significant consequences for the host cities. This thesis reviews the effects of the World Exposition on the architectural and urban environment of the two chosen cities, Osaka in 1970 and Brisbane in 1988, which have acted as hosts in the modern era. The historical influence of the world fair on the built form and its urban environment, together with the formation of the architectural styles, will also be reviewed. The material outlines the varied motivations for staging the fairs, and examines the outcomes in terms of architectural and urban development.