EXPO 2015 Milano – A Guide To The Pavilions, Part 3
By Pygmalion Karatzas
This is the 3rd and final installment of our coverage of the EXPO 2015 in Milan. We have once again featured the most outstanding pavilions of this six-month global showcase of over 140 participating countries and is estimated to attract 20 million visitors.
The EXPO 2015 site is located near the RHO PERO area, 9 km north-west of the city centre. An investment of more than 4 billion Euros is the estimated cost of the project, however the total cost is expected to be around 13 billion. Some 40,000 people have been involved in the planning and execution of the event, not counting the participation of 36,000 volunteers.
The masterplan and design guidelines mandated that the exposition site blend in with the environment coherently and naturally, as well as reducing the impact of construction and energy consumption. It is the first large-scale event to fully compensate for 100% of the greenhouse gases emitted. This will be achieved through local projects that improve energy efficiency and the purchase of carbon credits from international projects. The site also presents some of the most advanced technologies in the energy field, with a higly innovative LED public lighting system and a smart energy network receiving power fuelled by renewable sources.
In addition to the individual country pavilions, EXPO Milan introduced thematic clusters to house projects from countries that were unable to create their own pavilion. These clusters are communal exhibition spaces that are scattered around the site and enable the participants to represent their history and culture through the agricultural and food traditions most typical of their country. Some clusters present timeless products -rice, coffee, spices, cocoa and fruits. Other clusters are grouped according to territory themes – biomediterranean, islands and sea, and arid zones. The thematic clusters are the result of an international workshop comprised of 18 universities from around the world.
Graphic of Clusters’ design teams. Source: www.expo2015.org
The Expo Milan also has uniquely designed exhibition areas that explore and interpret the themes of the expo such as Biodiversity Park, Slow Food Pavilion, Art and Food, and the Future Food District. It also includes participants from civil society organizations and firms developing projects of interest in connection to the theme of the Expo.
The three features present a selection of the national pavilions, the thematic clusters and areas, and of the non-official participants, corporate and partner pavilions. The visit took place between the 5th and 14th of May.
Self-built national pavilions
Each pavilion holds a ‘National Day’ during the six months of the Expo, where each country has the opportunity to organize a series of public events and festivities, both on-site and in the city of Milan. Participating countries present their culture and creativity through institutional events and entertainment, involving other countries as well as the general public.
Thematic Areas, Non-Official Participants / Civil Societies, Corporate, Partners
During the six-month expo, representatives from participating countries and organizations will be sharing ideas and solutions on sustainable agriculture through conferences and related events. The various activities are designed to make us contemplate the theme from multiple perspectives. Towards the end of the expo, various awards will be given to the official participants who have best demonstrated and contributed to the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. The awards are for pavilion design, creative display and theme development.
In his essay about the history of World Fairs, ‘Belief in the Future’, Aldo Castellano notes “The most significant change (in the basic nature of these trade fairs) is perhaps in the spirit of competition between individual exhibitors from participating countries.” In the early days of modernity, competition was considered a positive and effective way of encouraging the production of quality products. Although, in the following decades studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on food quality and agricultural surpluses, have demonstrated the degredation of current food production practices and the need to move beyond the competitive paradigm.
World expositions are about many things: showcasing and exchanging ideas in innovation and technology; a celebration of cultures and traditions; networking and outreaching among countries and organizations; and ultimately an opportunity to reflect upon our state of being and becoming. While the initial concepts may seemed charged with lofty goals, as time passes and their manifestation progresses, they become a microcosm for mirroring our collective realities.
Facts about EXPOs
The Universal Expositions are organized by the Bureau Internacional de Exposiciones (BIE), taking place every five years over six months during which cultural, social and economic exchanges between countries, institutions, international bodies, ngo’s and companies are strenghtended. They have an on-going tradition of 160 years. World EXPOs are regarded as the Olympics in the areas of economy, culture, science and technology.
Early events date back in 1851 (London) with the last EXPO in Shanghai in 2010 reaching 73 million visitors. Popular inventions presented in past EXPOs include: the photograph (1878 Paris), the ferris wheel (1893 Chicago), the X-ray machine (1901 Buffalo), electricity (1904 St. Louis), the television set (1939 New York), the mobile phone (1970 Osaka). According to the Protocol of BIE, a world exposition “is an event which, regardless of its name, has a primary purpose of public education, making an inventory of means available to people in order to meet the needs of the civilisation and highlighting current progress or future prospects within one or more areas of human activity”.
All images © Pygmalion Karatzas (unless otherwise stated). For additional images from my archive of the EXPO, a section of my website will be regularly updated.
I would like to thank The Danish Architecture Centre for supporting this project, Jakob Hybel for his editorial help, Giordana Zagami from HK Strategies for providing additional information, Paola Di Marzo and Massimiliano at the Italian Pavilion press office, Roberta Riccio at the Swiss Pavilion press office, Elena Pagano at the German Pavilion press office, Fulvia Zimmitti for the hospitality, and Panos Bazos for his invaluable and continous support.