Building a Miniature London in Japan, Grain by Grain
April 9, 2012
In 1893, Chicago hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, a monumental celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. More than a nationalist commemoration, the Chicago World’s Fair was a large-scale survey of the state of American architecture, a bold statement assuring European visitors that America was an emerging global force. The event filled 400 acres of fairgrounds with temporary pavilions in the form of Beaux Arts buildings and infrastructure, touting neoclassical symmetry and splendor with structures designed to last no more than the six-month run of the Exposition. In essence, a transient, faux-marble Rome was erected and dismantled in Chicago within months, only to be remembered in photos and personal accounts—some more famously by the architect Adolf Loos.
As ephemeral as the Chicago World’s Fair was at the end of the nineteenth century, it cannot compare to what is currently taking shape at the Sand Museum in Tottori, Japan. Sand sculptors have taken residency at the world’s first ever sand museum to construct scaled down replicas of London’s architecture and massive tokens of British paraphernalia in honor of the 2012 Olympic Games. Photos on Design You Trust and The Daily News show a uniformly brown model of Westminster Abbey sitting above a high relief, larger-than-life sculptural tribute to England’s monarchy. Shovels, spray bottles and plastic buckets abound, as dedicated sculptors painstakingly mold and carve tiers of British row houses. The elaborate sand castles will be ready for the public on April 14, and—beating the 1893 World Expo by a few months—will run all the way through January 2013.