piet niemann unveils expo 2000 – 20 years later


Hamburg-based photographer Piet Niemann unveils his latest work, Expo 2000 — 20 Years Later, a photobook that offers a nuanced visual retrospective of the Expo site in Hannover, Germany, two decades post-event. Honored at the 2023 European Architectural Photography Award, Niemann’s collection not only offers a glimpse into the past, but also prompts contemplation on the contemporary and future landscapes of our built environment.


At a time when the construction industry shoulders approximately forty percent of global CO2 emissions, and concerns like the circular economy, material scarcity, and reuse are prevalent, Piet Niemann’s photobook becomes a timely catalyst for dialogues on sustainability and accountability in construction. ‘Expo 2000 was a symbol of a promising, sustainable future. But how has that promise evolved over the past two decades?’  he questions. His photographs from 2020 not only document the tangible remnants of Expo 2000 but also challenge viewers to ponder the realization and fulfilment of the optimistic vision it once represented.

piet niemann captures remnants of germany's expo 2000 site two decades post-event
central view onto the Expo-Plaza from the German Pavilion | all images © Piet Niemann



the photobook chronicles the evolution of the site


Piet Niemann, having contributed to renowned architectural firms like Zaha Hadid Architects and Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, distinguishes himself as an architectural photographer with a penchant for macro-sociological projects. Characterized by detached and sober observations, Niemann’s approach captures the social and architectural evolution of our surroundings. In Expo 2000 — 20 Years Later, he employs this perspective to chronicle the transformations on the Expo site across 128 pages. His lens not only captures the abandoned pavilions but also the traces of nature that have gradually reclaimed the site, underscoring the fragility and resilience of the built environment.


In the foreword to Niemann’s book, architecture journalist Benedikt Crone writes: ‘Niemann’s photographs show the state of things in 2020 in fog-shrouded honesty. The photographer happened upon the concrete skeleton of the Netherlands Pavilion, the student dormitories arranged in rows in front of an open landscape, and the abandoned, bright-yellow pavilion of Lithuania, behind which, separated by a meadow, an IKEA outlet is now located in corresponding colors.’ In his essay The Beauty of a Ruin, Jacob van Rijs of architectural firm MVRDV provides an overview of the Dutch pavilion’s origins and development up to its transformation into a contemporary legacy. Of the current transformation of the pavilion, he says: ‘we are turning a temporary project into a permanent building, while keeping the original spirit of the design. […] Maybe that’s why I find Piet Niemann’s photos so special. They show an intermediate moment for the pavilion; you don’t know whether it will stay or go.’

piet niemann captures remnants of germany's expo 2000 site two decades post-event
an upper level of the pavilion featured a forest through which visitors could walk

piet niemann captures remnants of germany's expo 2000 site two decades post-event
the Netherlands Pavilion, once the unofficial emblem and crowd-drawer of the Expo 2000

piet niemann captures remnants of germany's expo 2000 site two decades post-event
Instead of renovating the misaligned stairs leading to the subway station, the access was permanently blocked

piet niemann captures remnants of germany's expo 2000 site two decades post-event
the eastern exit of the subway station that leads to the planned municipal district is only now being built

expo 2000 20 years later 5
the Lithuanian Pavilion was celebrated as the second architectural highlight after the Netherlands Pavilion

expo 2000 20 years later 1
Piet Niemann, an architectural photographer of public buildings



project info:


name: Expo 2000 — 20 Years Later
photographer: Piet Niemann

publisher: Kerber Verlag



designboom has received this project from our DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: ravail khan | designboom