»Tradition is a dare for innovation.«

Alvaro Siza

Blog Lens

Expo 2015 Sneak Preview

Countdown or meltdown in Milan?

  • One of four multimedia “gate” structures designed by Daniel Libeskind and sited at the cross-section of the main axes. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 1 / 17  One of four multimedia “gate” structures designed by Daniel Libeskind and sited at the cross-section of the main axes. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Slovenian Pavilion whose theme is: “I Feel Slovenia. Green. Active. Healthy”. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 2 / 17  The Slovenian Pavilion whose theme is: “I Feel Slovenia. Green. Active. Healthy”. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Mexican Pavilion is based on a corn cob. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 3 / 17  The Mexican Pavilion is based on a corn cob. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Spanish Pavilion's theme is “cultivating the future”. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 4 / 17  The Spanish Pavilion's theme is “cultivating the future”. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Decumano street, running east to west is one of the Expo’s two main axes. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 5 / 17  The Decumano street, running east to west is one of the Expo’s two main axes. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Intensa Sanpaolo Pavilion. Intensa Sanpaolo is one of the Expo’s main banking partners. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 6 / 17  The Intensa Sanpaolo Pavilion. Intensa Sanpaolo is one of the Expo’s main banking partners. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • Construction teams are working around the clock to have the site ready for the opening on May 1st. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 7 / 17  Construction teams are working around the clock to have the site ready for the opening on May 1st. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The entrance to the UK Pavilion with the Hungarian pavilion in the background. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 8 / 17  The entrance to the UK Pavilion with the Hungarian pavilion in the background. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The raised “apple orchard and meadow” within the UK Pavilion. Luckily the Expo theme is “food”, you could fry eggs on the heat of the steel cladding panels. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 9 / 17  The raised “apple orchard and meadow” within the UK Pavilion. Luckily the Expo theme is “food”, you could fry eggs on the heat of the steel cladding panels. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • Wolfgang Buttress' UK Pavilion is based on a beehive. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 10 / 17  Wolfgang Buttress' UK Pavilion is based on a beehive. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • Inside the main structure of the UK Pavilion there is an LED light show at night and sounds of hive bees humming alongside strains of classical music. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 11 / 17  Inside the main structure of the UK Pavilion there is an LED light show at night and sounds of hive bees humming alongside strains of classical music. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • Shadows cast by the beehive structure and first guests at the preview of the UK Pavilion... (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 12 / 17  Shadows cast by the beehive structure and first guests at the preview of the UK Pavilion... (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • ...the whole structure is devoted to the theme of pollination. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 13 / 17  ...the whole structure is devoted to the theme of pollination. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Dutch Pavilion next to the Holy See Pavilion in progress. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 14 / 17  The Dutch Pavilion next to the Holy See Pavilion in progress. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • One of the main axes showing the tent-like awnings which remain from the original masterplan. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 15 / 17  One of the main axes showing the tent-like awnings which remain from the original masterplan. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Malaysian Pavilion seemed almost complete. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 16 / 17  The Malaysian Pavilion seemed almost complete. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)
  • The Zero Pavilion is a series of curvy, evocative, mounds. (Photo: Orlando Lovell) 17 / 17  The Zero Pavilion is a series of curvy, evocative, mounds. (Photo: Orlando Lovell)

With only a few days remaining before the opening of the Expo 2015 World’s Fair, subtitled: “Feeding the Planet” in Milan, the vast site on the outskirts of the city is a hive of frenetic activity. Whilst uncube was visiting town for this year’s Salone del Mobile, we took the opportunity for a sneak peek at a few of the Expo pavilions just two weeks before the official opening, and found them far from complete in several respects.

In the context of our current Expotecture magazine issue, in particular our exclusive interview with the Expo’s co-masterplanner Jacques Herzog, witnessing the birth of an Expo-to-be resulted in mixed feelings. On the one hand you can’t help but be slightly awed by the attention-seeking spectacle of it all. But on the other, the perversion of the original masterplan concept of Stefano Boeri, Jacques Herzog, Ricky Burdett and William McDonough – a “radical re-invention of the idea of a World’s Fair”, ditching national pavilions: “these monuments of individual national pride”, in favour of channelling the energy into content: the very serious issue of how to feed the planet – is quite shocking.

One wonders whether we will ever manage to outgrow the compulsion for competitive exhibitionism as a species. Even half a century ago, during the masterplanning of the ‘67 Expo in Montreal, architect Moshe Safdie tells us (in another exclusive interview as part of our month of all things Expo) that the organisers there originally tried to convince the participating nations – unsuccessfully – to tone down the national branding: “but this soon turned out to be impossible, because the countries demanded pavilions!”

That’s not to say that there aren’t designers around more than capable of – and indeed successful at – satisfying the desire for dazzle, whilst still getting a message across in a responsibly sustainable way. It just looks like, at the moment, the world’s fair stage is not the place to go looking for them.

Meanwhile the Expo 2015 in Milan has a more pressing problem: when we visited 14 days before the opening, it was far from finished. Although many buildings were in their final stages of completion, the interiors seemed to be another story. And the surrounding infrastructure of roads, pathways, landscaping, signage, street furniture was, well, let’s say: provisional. If they manage to pull it off in time then respect will very much be due to the many hundreds of construction workers working around the clock to ensure we can eat ice creams and popcorn at an overpriced piece of fun masquerading as a moral message.

– Sophie Lovell

 

Further reading: uncube magazine issue no.32: Expotecture

  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter

Advertisement

RECENT POSTS

more

Recent Magazines

25 Apr 2016

Magazine No. 43
Athens

  • essay

    From the Bottom and the Top

    Powering Athens through collectivity and informal initiatives by Cristina Ampatzidou

  • photo essay

    Nowhere Now Here

    A photo essay by Yiorgis Yerolymbos

  • Essay

    Back to the Garden

    Athens and opportunities for new urban strategies by Aristide Antonas

  • Interview

    Point Supreme

    An interview by Ellie Stathaki

>

03 Mar 2016

Magazine No. 42
Walk the Line

  • Essay

    The Line Connects

    An essay on drawing and architectural education by Wes Jones

  • Essay

    Drawing Attention

    Phineas Harper sketches out new narrative paths with pencil power

  • Essay

    Gotham

    Elvia Wilk on a city of shadows as architectural fiction

  • Interview

    The (Not So) Fine Line

    A conversation thread between Sophie Lovell and architecture cartoonist Klaus

>

28 Jan 2016

Magazine No. 41
Zvi Hecker

  • essay

    Space Packers

    Zvi Hecker’s career-defining partnership with Eldar Sharon and Alfred Neumann by Rafi Segal

  • Interview

    Essentially I am a Medieval Architect

    An interview with Zvi Hecker by Vladimir Belogolovsky

  • viewpoint

    The Technion Affair

    Breaking and entering in the name of architectural integrity by Zvi Hecker

  • Photo Essay

    Revisiting Yesterday’s Future

    A photo essay by Gili Merin

>

17 Dec 2015

Magazine No. 40
Iceland

  • Viewpoint

    Wish You Were Here

    Arna Mathiesen asks: Refinancing Iceland with tourism – but at what cost?

  • Photo Essay

    Spaces Create Bodies, Bodies Create Space

    An essay by Ólafur Elíasson

  • Focus

    Icelandic Domestic

    Focus on post-independence houses by George Kafka

  • Essay

    The Harp That Sang

    The saga of Reykjavík's Concert Hall by Sophie Lovell & Fiona Shipwright

>

more

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST Close

Uncube is brandnew and wants to look good.
For best performance please update your browser.
Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer 10 (or higher), Safari, Chrome, Opera

×