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Monday, March 2, 1998 Published at 21:57 GMT

How is the rest of the world celebrating the millennium?

The Reichstag in Berlin was wrapped in plastic by the Bulgarian artist Christo prior to refurbishment work. commencing

The millennium is being celebrated in a variety of ways in different countries: from the pompous grandeur of Britain to the faintly ridiculous in France.

[ image: Eiffel tower laying an egg.]
Eiffel tower laying an egg.
Paris is having very peculiar plans: a school of 2,000 luminous plastic fish is to be released in the river Seine, and there have also been suggestions that a huge "egg" should be placed under the Eiffel tower.

A 600ft (200m) Tower of the Earth, made of wood, is also planned and there will also be a giant book sculpture.

The Centre Pompidou, which is undergoing a complete revamp under a shroud of secretive hoardings, will be reopened on January 1, 2000.

Another of Europe's most famous buildings, the Reichstag in Berlin, will reopen just before the year 2000.

It has been derelict since 1933 when it was gutted by fire, and its reopening comes as Berlin takes over from Bonn as Germany's seat of government.

However, the timing is a complete coincidence, and, aside from the EXPO 2000 exhibition in Hannover, there are no plans for grandiose building projects in Germany.

In Italy, or Rome to be exact, religion is the driving force behind millennium celebrations - with around 50 new churches being built in the Eternal City.

Surprisingly, the United States have not been touched by the architectural millennium fever. There are plans to set up a National Digital Library and a National Science Foundation, but there will be no tangible monument to mark the occassion.

Maltese tower

In Malta, plans are well advanced for a huge telecommunications tower at the centre of a £78m ($130m) leisure and retail complex at Paceville, near the seaside resort of Sliema.

Project co-ordinator John Saliba says the Malta Millennium Project, as it is known, is being financed by Maltacom -- the island's main telecommunications company -- and a private consortium.

He says while the tower's main use would be to improve the island's telecommunications links it would also house offices and an entertainment complex.

"The development should be fully open by the end of 2001 but we hope to inaugurate some of it at the turn of the century," he says.

Hundreds of new churches

A new National Theatre is being built in Hungary to coincide with the big 2000, while the financially strapped Ukrainian government is helping to construct 1,750 churches.

Algeria is one of the few Arab countries planning to mark the Millennium in any way and there will also be celebrations in South Africa and Ghana but no buildings.

Although Japan uses the western calendar -- and is struggling to cope with the effects the Millennium bug will have on its computer networks -- it will not be celebrating the turn of the century.

[ image: Sydney will have several new Olympic stadia but the Millennium is a coincidence.]
Sydney will have several new Olympic stadia but the Millennium is a coincidence.
A Japanese embassy spokesman says: "It is considered primarily a Christian celebration and there are certainly no plans for major building work."

Time vault

Hong Kong has no plans to add to its bristling skyline and Australia is too busy with the Sydney Olympics to plan any specific Millennium structures.

The Olympic Village in Homebush Bay, on the outskirts of Sydney, will however provide many futuristic buildings, not least of which is the main Olympic Stadium.

New Zealand plans to install the world's biggest tuned bell in the Carillion in Wellington, which will chime for the first time at 12.00am on January 1, 2000.

The Kiwis are also planning a time vault which is designed to stay sealed for 1,000 years.

The top of the vast underground vault will be covered by an Egyptian-style pyramid illustrated with a bronze frieze depicting the history of New Zealand and some of its "heroes and achievers".

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