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Competition: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Argentina has launched an international contest for an International Pavilions complex at Expo 2023 Buenos Aires (Deadline: 22 July)

The anonymous two-stage competition – organised by the country’s Central Society of Architects – seeks conceptual proposals for three neighbouring and connected international pavilions for Expo 2023 which will focus on the theme of Science, Innovation, Art and Creativity for Human Development.

The call for concepts is the third in a series of six open competitions which will be held for prominent commissions on the 25 hectare expo site which has been masterplanned by Argentine architects Gustavo Mozzi and Hernán Vela. Other contests due to launch in the coming weeks will focus on an additional themetic pavilion, an urban landmark, and a public boulevard and bridge. A contest for the Argentine Pavilion was launched last week. 

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

According to the brief: ‘The international pavilions conform a complex of three buildings, 14,000m² each. The buildings are situated along the central boulevard of the venue, which provides a frank relation with the public space, its activities and flows. Its design must follow the concept of “natural container”, as a space that does not prefigure a single arrangement, but is flexible enough to adapt to various organizations.

’The pavilions will host 29 stands of 350m² and 32 stands of 700m² for the participating countries. As part of the legacy of the Expo 2023, the complex will become a “Creative Industries Campus”, flexible enough to allow the installation of various small and/or some large companies. In this sense, the design must be able to adapt in the best way, without any major transformations, to both the needs of the expo and the requirements of the legacy.’

Located on the South American continent’s south-eastern coast, Buenos Aires is the largest and capital city of Argentina. The city won its bid to host Expo 2023 two years ago, triumphing over rival offers by Łódź, Poland and Minneapolis, USA.

Buenos Aires is one of the smaller, specialised expositions which traditionally take place two years after the larger universal expositions such as Milan and Dubai. Running from 15 January and 15 April, the event is expected to receive around 9 million visitors and will be the first of its kind hosted in Latin America.

The expo is themed around creative industries in digital convergence and explores the full depth of creativity – its origins, impact and potential – as one of the fundamental features of humankind.

Contest site: Expo 2023

Contest site: Expo 2023

Contest site: Expo 2023

The event will be held on the 50 hectare site of the existing Tecnopolis exhibition park located within the Villa Martelli area of Vicente López District in the north of the capital city. A 25 hectare segment of park has been earmarked for the expo.

The latest competition involves creating three 14,000m² flexible exhibition spaces which can be used by participating countries during the expose and later repurposed as workspaces for small and large businesses.

The overall winner – due to be announced on 30 July – will receive a ARS$2 million prize while a second prize of ARS$800,000 and third prize of ARS$400,000 will also be awarded.

How to apply


The deadline for applications is 22 July

Contact details


Visit the competition website for more Information

Q&A with Hernan Vela

The Expo 2023 masterplanner discusses his ambitions for the competition

Hernan Vela

Hernan Vela

Hernan Vela

What is your vision for the International Pavilions?

The International Pavilions will host the stands and exhibitions of the participating countries. For the pavilion buildings, a mix of quick and longer ‘stop-for-a-show’ visits is foreseen. This mix is driven by the interests of the various participants and the activities conducted in these spaces, so the concept of flexibility is pivotal for this development.

A sense of flexibility should be provided by the interior layout of the International Pavilions, thereby enabling the concept of a ‘neutral container.’ It should be a space that does not prefigure a single arrangement, but privileges flexibility and adaptability and various possible configurations. The design of the buildings should also prioritize efficiency in the management of maintenance costs, as well as the choice of long-lasting materials to improve conservation. It should also seek a balance between rationality, coherence and the efficient use of resources in the construction process, so as to minimize any negative environmental impact.

The (42,000sqm) International Pavilions must provide a flexible space for the participating countries, hosting 29 stands of 350sqm and 32 stands of 700sqm. The 42,000sqm area will be divided into three large blocks of approximately 14,000sqm each – allowing independent functions, access and operations. After the expo, these three pavilions will become a creative business campus, flexible enough to accommodate various companies, both small and large, while also hosting some independent sector bodies and other types of activities. During this legacy stage, the blocks should be able to be further subdivided into sub-modules if needed by smaller companies.

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Contest site: International Pavilions, Expo 2023

Where will the buildings sit within the masterplan for the wider site?

The International Pavilions competition is part of a masterplan for the expo site involving five other international ideas contests. The pavilions are located along the site’s main boulevard, an axis that organizes the buildings of the masterplan and connects the main expo entrance to the Antenna and Viewpoint, which will be the subject of another competition, on the other side of the venue site.

The International Pavilions’ location allows for a direct relation with the central public space, and its activities and flows, providing multiple access points and interventions addressing the boulevard. The International Pavilions are situated next to the Mini Stadium and International Pavilion, a competition that has already been launched. Together with the Mini Stadium and the other International Pavilion, this set of buildings will make up one edge of the expo venue.

This configuration doesn’t formally unify the buildings, but an elevated walkway connecting them with each other and also with other buildings in the masterplan could be generated. In front of this set of buildings on the other side of the boulevard will be the Argentine Pavilion (which was the subject the first competition launched last month).

This national pavilion, alongside the Thematic Pavilions (an upcoming competition), will reflect the theme of the expo: Creative Industries in Digital Convergence.

Contest site: Expo 2023

Contest site: Expo 2023

Contest site: Expo 2023

How will this competition pose a rewarding challenge for architects?

Throughout history, expos have hosted the great masters of architecture (from Mies van der Rohe in Barcelona 1929, to Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava in Dubai 2020), making expositions an architectural genre in themselves. Expos continue to be grounds for expanding the conceptual and technological boundaries of architecture.

Expo 2023 Buenos Aires is the first one of its kind that will be held in Latin America and a great opportunity to pursue world expos’ ambitious ideals in this region. Furthermore, past expo buildings have often become a permanent reminder of different societies’ futuristic visions at a specific moment in history.

An expo is an event with a huge impact but only a brief duration, which is why one of its main elements is the legacy it can provide. Expo 2023 Buenos Aires is not conceived as a temporary episode, but as an integral vision leading to an enduring symbolic and physical legacy – itself representing an important and positive impact in urban, social and environmental terms.

The expo masterplan unifies urban areas of existing development in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires with other less well-developed areas of the Metropolitan Area – integrating a region that involves nearly sixteen million people. The result will be the creation of a metropolitan park of nearly 200 hectares, a Creative District, a Creative Business Campus and an Interactive Space for Creativity and Knowledge.