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Architecture on stage - Expo 2015

Architecture on stage - Expo 2015
By Francesco Pagliari -
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With more than 1.1 million square metres of exhibition space, Milan Expo 2015 is an exhibition of the most recent technologies designed to combat the paradoxically unbalanced way our modern world manages its energy and food resources. At the same time Expo unfolds the extraordinary wealth of food farming practices and fine food traditions existing in the world.

The exhibition site is laid out along two intersecting thoroughfares - the Cardo and the Decumanus - along which are aligned the national pavilions of the participating countries. The two main streets are shielded by a two-drape tensile structure, designed and developed by Studio Tecnico Majowiecki from an Expo Plan Office concept.

The architecture of each pavilion has the major responsibility of arousing the curiosity of visitors and drawing them inside. Some pavilions rely on the very specific architectural features of their country. For example, the United Arab Emirates Pavilion by Foster + Partners is a 12-metre fibreglass-reinforced concrete structure reminiscent of desert dunes while on the inside, the distribution paths recall the narrow pedestrian streets of ancient desert cities.

Other pavilions have preferred to make their architecture interpret the underlying theme of the Universal Exhibition. Atsushi Kitagawara Architects designed the façade of the Japan Pavilion using traditional eco-sustainable building techniques, namely, compressive strain assembly where a series of interlocking carved joints fit all the elements of the structure together. The China Pavilion, designed by Link-Arc Studio, also takes its cue from vernacular architecture in its roof of bamboo leaves that recall traditional Chinese curved roof tiles. The pavilion juxtaposes natural and artificial, with the north elevation reflecting a modern skyline while the south elevation depicts the traditional countryside.

The pavilion built by Chinese real estate giant Vanke takes its...

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