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Party Palace - Expo Liege 1939

Party Palace at the Exhibition Expo Liege 1939
Architect(s) : Jean Moutschen

It is known that the City of Liège contributed to the construction costs of the Grand Palais des Fêtes de l'Exposition, the ownership of which was to revert to the City. This was an opportunity to provide the city with a very large palace that could be used for trade fairs, congresses, sports and agricultural meetings, etc.

It is an immense hall, 90 metres long, 40 metres wide and 20 metres high, surrounded by the services necessary for its operation. A vast entrance, where the gallery's staircase is located, precedes the main building. This gallery, with a span of 42 metres and a capacity of 850 people, is a very bold technical achievement. The composition of the distribution plan of the premises is very well conceived.

The palace's architecture is very sober and tends to emphasise the imposing volume of the great hall. The high pilasters interrupting the bareness of the side façades recall the power of the supporting framework. One might perhaps regret the absence of voids whose elegance would have embellished this architecture, even the effect of the terracotta cladding - a little too invasive on such a vast surface - would have benefited from it. The main entrance, which is of easy dimensions, seems to be too overwhelmed by the bas-relief above it. The latter is the work of the sculptor Wansart. It has a very clean, modern design and is of great sculptural value. It represents the city of Liege, the Arts and Sciences. The rear façade is cut by a "Dionysus" by the sculptor Adelin Salle.

- The Cold Industry (cl. 14)

The importance of industrial refrigeration is well known, with applications in a wide variety of fields. In metallurgy, for example, it allows the air in blast furnaces to be dried out, thus allowing enormous savings in fuel. It also ensures the separation of gases from coke ovens, especially the hydrogen used in the manufacture of ammonia. In the mechanical industry, it is used for testing and determining devices and materials for use at low temperatures and for improving the efficiency of engines. In the chemical industry, it is used in the liquefaction of gases and the recovery of volatile solvents. In the mining industry, it is used in shaft sinking by freezing aquifers and in the air conditioning of galleries. Finally, in the food industry, it helps in the preservation and transport of perishable materials, not to mention its numerous applications in various industries and its use to improve comfort and hygiene under certain conditions.

From the Belgian point of view, the many manifestations of this class were the subject of some important stands in the COLD SECTION installed in one of the halls of the Grand Palais des Fêtes, as well as some participations in other halls, notably that of the Industries Lourdes, and an individual pavilion set up jointly by the Hamon and Sobelco Companies.

Ammonia and methyl chloride refrigeration appliances, pumps for refrigerators, carbo-ice appliances, isothermal wagons, refrigerated cabinets for domestic use, air conditioning appliances, ice moulds, etc. were represented. The State Refrigeration Services had contributed to this ensemble.

Although all types of equipment were exhibited and all refrigeration applications were described, it should be noted that no attempt was made to synthesise them. The Belgian exhibitors in this class were only concerned with commercial propaganda. However, the ever-expanding intervention of the cold in domestic life was a theme that could easily have been developed for didactic and educational purposes.

The future prospects for this industry, which are growing daily, justified the small material sacrifice required.

Finally, it is within the framework of the achievements of class 14 that we should mention the construction of the OLYMPIC SKATING TRACK of the Exhibition. This installation, which is a credit to our national industry, was entrusted to one of our oldest specialist companies.

Skating rinks have become increasingly popular in recent years. Not only is skating very fashionable at the moment, but also artistic exhibitions and ice hockey matches are becoming more and more popular.

The Water Exhibition had to include such events in its programme. The construction of a track was therefore planned and, in agreement with the City of Liège, it was set up in the Grand Palais des Fêtes, the property of which, as we know, was to revert to the City at the close of the Exhibition. The Cité ardente would thus be equipped with a modern track.

Here is a brief description of the installation.

The track covers an area of about 1,500 square metres (58 x 26 m.). It is established on a well-levelled ground on which a large concrete base is laid, which is itself covered with an insulating layer made of agglomerated cork sheets. This insulation is protected against infiltration by an impermeable screed on which the cooling zone itself rests, the most interesting part of its construction.

The cooling networks, made of steel pipes with a total length of more than 18,000 metres, are embedded in a layer of concrete reinforced with a special wire mesh. This is connected to the pipes by a large number of steel clamps, which significantly improves the thermal conductivity of the system.

Special precautions have been taken to combat the effects of contraction and expansion due to temperature variations. These consist in the use of a special concrete and the creation of elastic joints judiciously connected in the thickness of the platform. It should also be noted that the huge cement table is free all around, as there is still room for expansion under the plinth. This also makes it possible to collect the water from the melting or cleaning of the track.

The machines were installed in one of the side rooms of the Palace. Despite the limited space available, it was possible to create a practical and easily operated installation.

The cold brine is supplied by a state-of-the-art refrigeration plant consisting of two vertical, two-cylinder, continuous-flow ammonia compressors with a capacity of 250,000 frigories each. One of them is sufficient to ensure normal operation, the other being used as a reserve and being put into service for freezing the runway or in moments of great affluence. Each compressor is driven by a 150 HP electric motor. The condenser provided for the power of the two compressors is of the vertical type with internal run-off. This type is highly efficient and takes up very little space; it can be cleaned while the units are running.

The vertical brine cooler, patented by the winning company, with rapid circulation, also takes up very little space.

Two motor pump units, one of which is a reserve, ensure the circulation of brine in the cooling networks. The main inlet and outlet pipes run in a gutter parallel to the main axis of the runway. The layout of these pipes is designed to ensure that the cold brine is distributed evenly over the entire ice surface. Also, the combination of the circuit ensures an equal temperature everywhere, resulting in a uniform consistency much appreciated by the skater. Shut-off valves along the main pipes allow the frozen surface to be limited to 1/3 or 2/3.

This track was a great success for the Liège Exhibition. It was used for all official ice hockey matches and figure skating exhibitions. Every day, at certain times, it was accessible to the public who could indulge in their favourite sport. When the hall was to be used for other types of events, an easily removable floor was laid over the arena so as to make the whole of the vast vessel available to the spectators who constantly invaded it during parties, concerts, etc.

© General Report - International Water Technology Exhibition - Liège 1939