The making of a city: How Expo 88 changed Brisbane forever

Smith, A. and Mair, J. 2018. The making of a city: How Expo 88 changed Brisbane forever. in: Expo Cities Urban Change Paris BIE. pp. 88-100

Chapter titleThe making of a city: How Expo 88 changed Brisbane forever
AuthorsSmith, A. and Mair, J.
Abstract

Thirty years ago Brisbane, Australia hosted an International Specialised Expo. This article explains the significance of this case and outlines lessons for future hosts. Expo 88 was designed as a ‘free enterprise’ project funded by revenue from ticket sales, sponsorship and property sales. The idea was to minimise public expenditure and to promote the host region as a place ripe for new investment. Expo 88 left an obvious physical impression on the city, but there were more subtle legacies too; including a shift in the lifestyles and cultural habits of local people.

Post-event, the Expo site was converted into South Bank Parklands – a 42ha public park. This is now Brisbane’s most popular leisure precinct attracting around 11 million visitors every year. The Parklands were not created directly by the Expo, but were inspired by the spirit of conviviality and festivity that people had enjoyed in 1988. So Expo 88 generated a physical legacy via the behaviours, emotions and expectations it engendered. Reflecting the theme - Leisure in an Age of Technology - Expo 88 opened people’s eyes to the leisure opportunities available in their own city and redefined Brisbane as a centre of leisure and cultural consumption.

The article culminates in several key lessons that future and potential hosts can learn. Expo 88 proved that mega-events don’t have to result in massive public debts and that their impact relies on good timing. The complex evolution of Brisbane’s South Bank Parklands post-Expo reminds us that, even if legacy plans are carefully drawn up in advance, changes will still be needed post-event. This precinct’s (re)development also suggests that successful tourism spaces can be created by first focusing on local needs. Ultimately, the case demonstrates that Expos can result in positive urban change by raising public expectations of urban space.

KeywordsBrisbane World Expo Regeneration Legacy Events
Book titleExpo Cities Urban Change
Page range88-100
Year2018
PublisherBIE
Publication dates
Published27 Nov 2018
Place of publicationParis
Edition2018
SeriesBIE Bulletin
ISBN9782955818824
Web address (URL)https://www.bie-paris.org/site/en/publications/annual-bulletin

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