The Expo Milano 2015 site has been conceived as an expression of the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. It was designed by architects from Expo 2015 SpA with the support of internationally renowned architects such as Stefano Boeri, Ricky Burdett and Jacques Herzog.
Against the unique extraordinary setting of the Expo Site, the exhibition and distribution layout for Participants is very simple and deliberately systematic, to contrast with the many varied ways of taking part.
Allowing players free expression within a preset systematic framework is the most important premise because freedom of expression is the fundamental value of World Expos and participation by countries.
The two axes that make up the structure of the masterplan grid continue the historic alignment of the Sempione and also symbolize an ideal itinerary: the Decumanus leads from the centre towards the periphery, the axis that symbolically joins the place where food is consumed (the city) with the place where it is produced (the countryside). In a city like Milan, the second Municipality in Italy for agricultural production, surrounded by a large agricultural park, this road takes on special importance especially in relation to its perpendicular axis, the Cardo. The latter represents the conjunction of the ring of parks and green structures that in this way reconnect and become a virtual part of the Site.
Along the Decumanus, all the countries taking part will be given the chance to express and showcase their own wealth of food and produce and let visitors taste their fare: a one-kilometre long sensorial experience, a walk through different lots, with a new country every twenty metres and a variety of aromas and flavours that correspond to all the different interpretations of the theme. In the same way, the second axis – the Cardo – is surrounded by the exhibition spaces and tasting sessions organized by the host country, Italy, the great interpreter of the Expo theme thanks to its excellences in food, health and wellbeing. Here, regions and cities, companies and associations, will show to the world the culture and tradition of Italian food that stand out thanks to the high quality of raw materials and finished products.
At one end of the Cardo, close to the Lake Arena, there is Palazzo Italia, the institutional meeting place for the host country and participants.
The intersection of the Cardo and the Decumanus will be the symbolic place where Italy meets the world and the world meets Italy, in a large central piazza the size of Piazza della Scala in Milan.
The Site is devised as an island surrounded by a canal that brings one of the basic elements of this “extraordinary setting” into the project: water.
This is an element closely linked to the theme that brings Milan’s canals to mind, at the same time providing irrigation and control of the micro-climate for the Site. Water thus becomes a technical element, not only for the capacity to collect rainwater in phyto-treatment ponds, purify it and return it to the irrigation system for the surrounding countryside, but also for the possibility that it offers to create microclimate zones that differ to suit visitors’ needs and preferences.
Direct contact with the canal is provided by the Service Areas on the Site that will house everything needed to make visits enjoyable (cafés, restaurants, sanitary facilities, retail spaces…). These are positioned at regular intervals inside the orthogonal framework along the Decumanus, in the main public areas and along the perimeter path. The green areas and docks next to the Service Areas are the ideal place for a quick lunch or a pleasant evening out.
The Service Areas are temporary structures entirely built of wood that can be dismantled and reused or recycled upon conclusion of the Expo. They are characterized by arcades and raised walkways that create highly permeable spaces and enhance the interaction between the built spaces and the surrounding landscape.
Together with the canal, the Site’s main symbolic elements help to define the setting at its cardinal points: the Hill, the Open Air Theatre, the Lake Arena and the Expo Center. In addition to acting as references to guide visitors around the Exhibition Site, these will also be the venues for the major events at the Exposition.
Standing 22 metres high, the Hill is one of the Site’s principal landmarks and home to the Mediterranean agro-ecosystem. Its user-friendly design includes a system of ramps that take visitors to the top, from where they can enjoy a fabulous view of the Site from above.
The Open Air Theatre, in the south portion of the Site, will seat around 11,000 spectators on its lawns and steps for open-air concerts, plays and official ceremonies.
The Lake Arena, will be a pool of water fed by the canal and surrounded by steps, having a seating capacity of around 3,000 or 20,000 standing. It will be the venue for special water shows, fireworks, concerts and performances on platforms and floating stages, artistic installations and temporary events.
The Expo Center, to the extreme west of the Decumanus, comprises three independent functional blocks: an auditorium (southern block), a performance area (central block) and an office block (northern block), with a total volume of 62,965 cubic metres. Thanks also to versatile and adaptable structures, the events spaces will offer entertainment for fans in the form of music, theatre and dance and also for visitors passing through with continual forms of entertainment between the big events.
The International Media Center offers a panoramic view of the entire Expo Site as well as fully equipped facilities for journalists, photographers, video and radio operators, and web specialists who are onsite to communicate Expo Milano 2015 to the rest of the world from this privileged vantage point.
The Thematic Areas are spaces curated by the Organizer, where the Expo Theme is developed through exhibition itineraries, artistic installations, attractions and more.
Pavilion Zero, in the southwest corner of the Site constitutes a sort of “launch pad” into the various subthemes and idioms of the Expo. It introduces the principal veins running through the Expo Theme using a scenographic idiom aimed at arousing a sense of wonder and curiosity (the true driver of the exploration and learning that will follow as the visitors make their way through the Site).
The Biodiversity Park will be a huge garden spread over 14,000 square metres in the north-eastern corner of the Exhibition Site. This will reproduce the variety of life in a highly attractive multi-form landscape that will emotionally involve visitors and stimulate their intellectual curiosity.
The Future Food District, which will be located inside two identical Exhibition Areas (2,500 square metres) and in the square that will be created between them (approx. 4,400 square metres), will provide visitor services and refreshment areas.
The idea of this ‘district’ of the food of the future is to allow visitors, and in particular young people and those more technologically aware, to understand how the food chain will work in the future, through an extensive application of information technology.
The “Food in Art” area, west of the Future Food District, explores our relationship with food as an object of symbolic contemplation through history.
The Children’s Park is an area entirely dedicated to children and families. These very special visitors should not only have adequate facilities and structures, but also opportunities to play and learn.
Non-Official Participants, such as Corporations and Partners, will find well designed dedicated facilities in the north-eastern sector of the Site. Civil Society, on the other hand, will be hosted in the Cascina Triulza, a previously existing farm encompassed by the Site, a piece of Milan’s significant contribution to the historical, architectural and environmental heritage of the Lombard rural landscape. The structure will be remodelled to create exhibition spaces, a conference room, offices and a food service area, while outdoor events and initiatives shall be hosted in the courtyard.
The Cascina Triulza, renovated and upgraded, will bequeathed back to the City of Milan at the close of the Expo.
Participating countries that choose not to develop their own autonomous pavilion will have the option of developing a theme they hold in common with other countries, sharing not only an exhibition area but also ideas, cultural traditions, solutions, new and time-honoured technologies, tastes, music, and knowledge.
These countries will be grouped according to specific food chain elements (Rice, Cereals and Tubers, Spices, Cacao, Coffee, Fruit and Legumes) or particularly relevant global themes (Agriculture and Nutrition in Arid Zones, Seas and Islands, Bio-Mediterraneum Ecosystems) to create Clusters.
Each country will have its own independent exhibition space to illustrate its particular contribution to the theme of the Cluster. The common areas at the heart of the Cluster will be dedicated to the food experience and sales of characteristic products. These areas will also feature spaces for thematic exhibitions and a space for cultural and musical events and talks. “Villages” will thus be formed with a strong geographic and thematic identity and open, permeable spaces for events, food service, and sales, providing a novel and participatory experience for visitors and their hosts as well.
A simple layout and natural thematic symbolic elements form a carefully designed and informed project, made up of micro-landscapes and innovative technological solutions with an overarching focus on sustainability. A rich and varied environment is thus created that will enhance visitor comfort and enjoyment for the entire duration of their time spent within the exhibition perimeter.
On element of this comfort is the roofing that characterizes the very design of the Exposition Site and is an integral part of it, covering all pedestrian routes to shelter visitors on sunny or rainy days. In addition to offering a high level of environmental comfort during the Milanese summer, these elements provide an element of cohesion for the entire area.
The desire to create coherence and continuity between the open space and the contents of the various exhibitions, minimize queues and focus attractions inside the pavilions and enclosures requires servicing and enhancing all public spaces, to make visits to the open spaces on the Site problem-free and interesting.
The interpenetration of indoors and outdoors will be evident above all in the evening, when the Site comes to life with a host of different events. The high landscape value of the one combined with the enjoyment factor of the other will also make the Expo a unique place for meeting, sharing, discovering peoples and their cultures and savouring cuisine from around the world, or simply for spending a pleasant evening in the company of friends, entertained by a huge number of simultaneous happenings.
These characteristics also make the Site particularly interesting for those who visit the Expo more than once, discovering something new each time. Unexplored thematic itineraries await visitors of all types and interests, in a setting that is totally customizable and completely new and different with each visit.