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The three pebbles on the Neuchâtel Arteplage

Originally planned as Expo.01, but then postponed for a year, Expo.02 was the 6th Swiss national exhibition and took place from May 15 to October 20, 2002 in the Three Lakes Region. The exhibition consisted mainly of five exhibition areas called "Arteplage", which were built on the lakeside of the cities of Biel / Bienne , Murten , Neuchâtel and Yverdon-les-Bains exclusively for the duration of the exhibition; the fifth Arteplage was a converted gravel barge , called “Arteplage mobile du Jura”, which operated between the other Arteplages. Each species plague represented one of the five organizational cantons of Bern , Jura , Friborg , Neuchâtel and Vaud .

The word «Arteplage» (from French art art and plage beach ) was invented especially for Expo.02. At the Arteplages, cultural workers and institutions staged various topics in numerous exhibition pavilions and presented exhibits based on the Arteplages motto . The realization of many projects was sponsored by Swiss companies. There were also numerous artistic performances, light and sound shows as well as various rides .

The Arteplages

Arteplage mobile du Jura (AMJ)

Motto: meaning and movement; Canton: Jura

The AMJ was a former gravel ship with superstructures. It traveled back and forth between the various fixed Arteplages and was the only Arteplage not to have constant exhibitions, but instead held events during the journeys that were thematically combined as individual "chapters".


Towers and forum on Arteplage Biel

Motto: power and freedom; Canton Bern

The Arteplage Biel comprised the Biel lake basin , the area of ​​the lido and a platform built on stilts in the lake , on which three distinctive towers, designed by the international architecture office Coop Himmelb (l) au , stood. In the shape of a helix , a bridge swung from the platform over the lake basin to the exhibition area on the opposite side.


  • Bien travailler - Bien s'amuser
  • Cyberhelvetia.ch
  • Empire of Silence
  • Money and value - the last taboo
  • Living boundaries ( Atelier Brückner , Stuttgart)
  • happy end
  • Sound tower
  • Life, pleasure and reward
  • Nouvelle DestiNation
  • Strangers in Paradise
  • sWiSH *
  • Territoire imaginaire
  • The tent


The «Monolith» in Lake Murten

Motto: moment and eternity; Canton: Friborg

The exhibitions in Murten were spread across the historic old town and its surroundings. One of the particularly impressive installations was the temporary “Garden of Violence” by Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten from Zurich , which intelligently presented the topic of global violence in a landscape-architectural- artistic installation. The species itself was on the banks of Lake Murten . The largest building was the “ Monolith ” by the architect Jean Nouvel , a walk-in cube made of sheet steel with an edge length of 34 meters, inside of which two large panoramic images could be seen.


  • Blind man's cow (similar to Dialog in the Dark , with Dark Restaurant; in the Monolith; fully booked days in advance)
  • The garden of violence (exhibition at Expo.02 together with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC; Vogt Landscape Architects, Zurich)
  • Expoagricole
  • Home factory
  • Panorama of the Battle of Murten
  • Panorama Switzerland version 2.1
  • Inadequate
  • shipyard


Exhibition grounds in Neuchâtel with the ferris wheel
Le Palais de l'Equilibre. The Kugelhaus was partly built from the board elements of the Swiss Pavilion at the Expo 2000 Hanover . The Palais de l'Equilibre later became the Globe of Science and Innovation at CERN

Motto: nature and artificiality; Canton: Neuchâtel

The centerpiece of the arteplage was the platform, which was built entirely on Lake Neuchâtel and covered by three galets known as "pebbles", under which most of the pavilions were located. Further exhibitions were set up along the shore.


  • Ada - the intelligent room
  • Aua extrema (project of the cantons of Eastern Switzerland on the subject of water)
  • BEAUFORT 12 (issuing of cantonal building insurance for natural disasters)
  • Biopolis
  • Le Palais de l'Equilibre
  • Magic de l'Energie
  • manna
  • Piazza Pinocchio
  • Robotics


Motto: I and the universe; Canton: Vaud

The symbol of the arteplage was the walkable cloud, a construction around 100 meters long and 20 meters high that stood on supports in Lake Neuchâtel and on which over 30,000 water droplets spraying nozzles created a cloud that changed with the wind position. The rest of the exhibition area was on the lake shore.


  • Circuit
  • Garden of Eden - the fascination of health
  • Kids.expo
  • Le premier regard
  • Onoma (installation on the place names of Switzerland)
  • Oui!
  • SwissLove (interactive film)
  • Who am I?

Facts about Expo.02

As part of Expo.02, the infrastructure of the three-lake region underwent some improvements. For the duration of the exhibition, extra parking spaces (almost unused during the expo) were made available, some of which shuttle buses drove to the Arteplages. However, the expo’s traffic-related objective was to allow visitors to use the train more often to get there; For this reason, the SBB offered special Half-Fare travelcards.

Between the Arteplages, six speedboats, the so-called Iris catamarans , built just for this occasion , operated on the Biel, Neuchâtel and Murten lakes.

Various new accommodations were built for overnight stays. For one module hotels that of composite containers passed, and Tipi -Zeltdörfer. Numerous restaurants offered a wide variety of menus at all Arteplages.

The mascot of Expo.02 was called Lili and portrayed a 7-year-old girl.

Expo.02 in numbers

  • Total budget: 1.45 billion SFr.
  • Price for season pass: 240 SFr. after the presale
  • Counted number of admissions: 10.3 million
  • Daily visitor record: 180,000 admissions (October 20, 2002)
  • Arrival of visitors: 65% by train, 30% by private car

History of Expo.02

A scheduled boat and an Iris speedboat on Lake Neuchâtel

In 1964, the organizers of the 5th Swiss National Exhibition in Lausanne expressed the wish in their final report that another national exhibition should coincide with the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Confederation in 1991. But in the end the CH-91 project was discarded because the necessary credits were not granted.

In 1992 the idea of ​​a new Swiss national exhibition in the canton of Neuchâtel arose, which then stood for the organization of the same.

In 1994 the organizers succeeded in winning the cantons of Bern, Jura, Friborg and Vaud as co-organizers for the exhibition, which is located in the three-lake region and includes the four locations in which it was later held.

On January 30, 1995, the Federal Council approved the proposal for a Swiss national exhibition in the Three Lakes Region for 2001 , in particular through the personal commitment of Jean-Pascal Delamuraz .

In 1996, under the strategic direction of Francis Matthey, a feasibility study for the exhibition called Expo.01 was published. It predicted 1.3 billion total costs and around 10 million admissions and was certified by the Federal Council.

On March 3, 1997, Jacqueline Fendt was appointed director by the strategic committee of Expo.01, and Pipilotti Rist was later given artistic direction. In the same year, the financial situation of the state exhibition was improved.

In 1998, Pipilotti Rist announced her resignation, the media harshly criticized the entire project, and the environmental associations caused the Iris speedboat fleet to be downsized.

On January 26th, 1999 Nelly Wenger was appointed technical director and Martin Heller was appointed artistic director. It became known that the budget, especially with regard to the insufficient sponsorship, had been completely exceeded, in response to which Jacqueline Fendt was dismissed as director. The big industrialist Nicolas Hayek then prepared an expert opinion that confirmed the huge shortcomings in the financial sector. The media were already expecting the expo to be dissolved.

On October 14, 1999, the Federal Council confirmed the expo, on condition that a strict renovation program would be carried out, the result of which the expo was postponed by one year. As a result, National Councilor Franz Steinegger was appointed chairman of the steering committee, and the Expo budget increased; the sponsorship money could also be increased under pressure from the federal government.

On February 2, 2000, Nelly Wenger was appointed President of the General Management by the Steering Committee. In the same year, the budget for Expo.02 was further increased and the scope of the exhibition reduced.

In 2001 further sponsors were found to compensate for the telecommunications companies that had dropped out and Swissair . Although ticket sales got off to a good start, the management was forced to accept extreme budget cuts that led to the loss of quality in the exhibition.

In 2002, despite extreme cost-saving measures, a further federal loan was inevitable to guarantee the liquidity of Expo.02. This was finally granted in March of this year.

On May 14, 2002, Expo.02 was officially opened with a spectacle broadcast nationwide, and ticket sales were well above expectations.

For some buildings, subsequent recycling of the material for specific projects has already been planned elsewhere. Numerous exhibits were offered for sale to everyone, in fact many objects were marked as "sold" on the last day of the exhibition, and inquiries were answered promptly.

On January 1, 2003, Marc Stucki took over the overall project as the person responsible for the final theses. The dismantling work was largely completed in 2003. In 2004 Marc Stucki then worked as a liquidator. The dismantling phase was a success in terms of personnel and finances.


The Swiss media, celebrities and a considerable part of the population criticized the Expo.02 even before it opened. The main reason lay in the enormous additional costs that the project caused for the federal government.

Over time, further criticism reasons appended added: The environmental groups condemned the Zubauung the under nature conservation standing region of the Three Lakes Region, the economy threw the Expo Directorate unrealistic planning and inability ago.

Even during the course of the exhibitions, criticism did not fall silent. The opening ceremony alone, which essentially consisted of a dance and sound show based on Greek mythology , met with irritation and incomprehension among many Swiss people. The national exhibition was sometimes perceived as "too un-Swiss", the mere absence of Swiss flags led to heated public debates, especially on the occasion of the festival on August 1st, broadcast live on television by the 400asa theater group (text: Lukas Bärfuss , director: Samuel Schwarz ), the so-called "monkey theater". The absence of flags during the national holiday, as requested by the authors, met with incomprehension. Furthermore, some visitors were annoyed about the very high entry costs and the sometimes long waiting times in front of the individual pavilions. On the last days of Expo.02, you had to expect over three hours of waiting before the popular exhibitions.

The fact that the majority of the visitors were nevertheless satisfied with the state exhibition was shown by an opinion poll in which a large number of Expo visitors said they would like another state exhibition in the near future after it had closed.


  • Franz Oswald et al .: Helvéti-Cité: The "Netzstadt Drei-Seen-Land" project. Case study on the urban design of the territory . Zurich 2004 (urban planning, joint project of the cities of Biel, Murten, Neuchâtel and Yverdon-les-Bains to follow up on Expo.02)
  • Udo Weilacher: The utopia of the peaceful garden. Garden of Violence in Murten (EXPO.02) . In: Udo Weilacher: In gardens. Profiles of current European landscape architecture . Birkhäuser, Basel 2005, ISBN 3-7643-7084-X

Web links

Commons : Expo.02  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. www.cyberhelvetia.ch ( memento of September 23, 2003 in the Internet Archive ) of September 23, 2003
  2. Luckily standing in line . In: NZZ , August 7, 2002, accessed April 10, 2018.
  3. Loose handling of taxpayers' money Balance / Ktipp. In: Ktipp website, March 14, 2001, accessed November 4, 2016.