WORK 25/209 (3840) Dome of Discovery and Skylon 1951

In 1951, exactly one hundred years after the Great Exhibition, another exhibition opened. It was called the Festival of Britain. This time, the exhibits were of British made goods rather than from around the world. The Festival was designed to make people feel good about Britain after the terrible suffering of the Second World War. It was a celebration of science, engineering and the arts. The Festival of Britain was an opportunity to showcase the new style of building: modernism. Over 8 million people visited London’s Southbank to visit the exhibition, mingle with others and marvel at the fresh, new, exciting architecture that had been built on previously bomb-damaged land.

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Look carefully at the document WORK 25/209 (3840) Dome of Discovery and Skylon 1951.

The Dome of Discovery housed a large exhibition space about exploration and discovery. At the time it was the largest domed building in the world. The vertical, tall structure that appears to be floating in the air was named Skylon. It was not a building- it was a structure designed by architects. It was designed to inspire, delight and act as a talking point. The Dome of Discovery and Skylon were built as temporary exhibitions. When the Festival of Britain came to an end, they were dismantled.

  • What words and ideas come into your head when you look at these structures?
  • What might have inspired the architects of these two structures? Where might they have got their ideas from?