Gizmag recently took a tour through the impressive grounds of World Expo 2015, which opened in Milan last month and features exhibitions from 143 participating countries. Here we've put together a list of our top 10 pavilions – the cream of a very fine crop which are a must see for anyone planning a visit to the Expo or those simply keen for a closer look at the best of what's on offer.
Located half an hour outside of the city center of Milan, the Expo grounds cover more than one million square meters (10.75 million sq ft), incorporating an array of arresting architectural projects and unique landscapes that represent different cultural identities. This year's world exposition is dedicated to the sharing of diverse and innovative ideas under the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," which saw many countries express ideas on how we can address the big questions surrounding global food supply.
Here's our pick of the 10 best World Expo pavilions:
The standout UK Pavilion is designed by British artist Wolfgang Buttress and was built in collaboration with engineer Tristan Simmonds and BDP architectural studio. The huge structure is made from 169,300 individual aluminum parts, which are assembled together following the Fibonacci sequence to create an enormous beehive structure. Inspired by scientific research from bee expert Dr. Martin Bencsik, the unique pavilion features audio sounds and visual cues that are linked in real-time to an actual working beehive located in the UK.
Visitors to the UK pavilion follow the path of a bee, twisting though a field of flowers and up into the heart of the beehive structure. Audio sounds of the queen bee's call can be heard throughout the exhibit and the LED lights illuminate when bee activity increases.
Covering a massive 4,133 square meters (44,487 sq.ft), the Brazilian pavilion was created by winning designers from Studio Arthur Casas and Atelier Marko Brajovic. The impressive Pavilion is filled with giant trampoline nets, representing the metaphor for flexibility, fluidity and decentralization and is designed to highlight Brazil's commitment to global access to food, and food quality.
Visitors to the Brazilian Pavilion enjoy a multi-sensory and interactive experience, making their way up and over the massive nets and around into a large indoor exhibition space. The suspended nets give visitors a unique vantage point above the "Green Gallery" below, which is made up of a series of planter boxer with flowers and fruits from Brazil. Brazil's interior gallery space is filled with hanging plants, resembling hundreds of different birdhouses.
The Swiss Pavilion was designed by the Netwerch architectural firm and although it doesn't seem particularly striking from the exterior, what lies within in an unexpected and creative interpretation of the Expo theme. Proposing the question "Is there enough for everyone?" the Swiss pavilion features four giant towers dedicated to different Swiss products: coffee, apples, salt and water.
Upon entering the pavilion, visitors are invited to take as much produce as they wish, keeping in mind that nothing will be re-stocked for the entire life of the EXPO 2015. Visitors are asked to consider others who will visit the exhibit over the six-month period before taking something with them. The walls of each tower are made from hundreds of cardboard boxes filled with produce and the floor is actually the base of a huge elevator, which lowers gradually as the boxes of produce empty.
Once the EXPO is over, these towers will be transported back to Switzerland and re-purposed into urban greenhouses in several Swiss cities.
The undulating China Pavilion was created in collaboration with Tsinghua University's Academy of Art and Design and New York architects Studio Link-Arc. The Pavilion is entitled "The Land of Hope" and showcases the nation's progress in agriculture and the supply of good healthy food. Expanding across an exhibition space of 4,590 square meters (49,406 sq.ft), the pavilion includes three themes: "The Gift of Nature," "Food for Life" and "Technology and the Future."
The pavilion features an expansive indoor field of LED lamps that is designed to resemble the crop process according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The show incorporates China’s interpretation for the five colors of the soil and it is truly mesmerizing to watch from all angles.
Germany's Pavilion is dubbed "The Field of Ideas" and was designed by renowned German architectural firm Schmidhuber. Using the architecture to reflect Germany's natural and rich landscapes, the pavilion features rolling curves, large green canopy and huge solar trees. The energy-producing solar trees incorporate thin organic photovoltaic technology (OPV) that can be simply printed on flexible film.
Visitors to the German Pavilion follow a planned route which takes them through the "roots of nutrition" – water, soil, climate and biodiversity – before arriving at the "Garden of Ideas." The pavilion is filled with private spots to relax and enjoy the scenery, accompanied by live music, DJ sets and live events.
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea pavilion is inspired by traditional Korean pottery, being built in the form of an enormous "Moon Jar." The overall shape and design of the structure is created to give the illusion that it is floating above its surrounding environment. The pavilion addresses the question “which foods should be selected for sustainable consumption in the future?” The exhibit also looks at current food-related issues such as obesity and famine.
Inside, visitors are taken through a series of rooms featuring thought provoking art installations that address problems caused by overeating, over-production of foods and famine in poverty stricken regions. A highlight of the pavilion is the Hansik hall, which is filled with hundreds of earthenware vessels called onggi. These vessels are used to naturally harbor the fermentation process of traditional Korean foods and can also be used for food storage. In the exhibition each one features a different overhead projection that beams down upon it.
The Austrian Pavilion is actually a lush outdoor forest, giving visitors the opportunity to meander through and enjoy a breathe of fresh air. Its lush vegetation creates its own microclimate and although it is not covered, the shade from the tress means the pavilion is always 5 degrees cooler than the exterior temperature. Every hour the forest produces enough oxygen for 1,800 visitors.
"Instead of a blaze of technology, our pavilion presents a dense natural forest," says the Austrian Commissioner General Josef Pröll. "The entire exhibition area in the interior is open and has been planted with trees, some of which are up to 12-metres high. This not only offers a very special experience of Nature, it also defines the EXPO skyline as a whole, because the crowns of our trees tower over most of the other buildings at the Universal Exposition."
The Pavilion Zero is curated by Davide Rampello and designed by Michele de Lucchi and explores the foundations of the United Nation's "The Zero Hunger Challenge – United for a Sustainable World." The huge Pavilion Zero takes visitors through a series of exhibitions spaces that explore the impact of food production processes, the evolution of agriculture and diverse cultural food rituals from around the globe.
Throughout the exhibit the UN looks to express its active support of small farmers and the protection of the diversity of crops. Over a time span of 12,000 years since man started cultivating foods, some 7000 plant species have declined to just 30 main crops, which make up 95 percent of our food supply.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE Pavilion was designed by international architects Foster + Partners and features tall rippled walls, reflecting the United Arab Emirates' desert landscapes. The structure is naturally cooling, with 12 meter (39.37 ft) tall walls that provide protection from the sun and create shaded pathways for visitors. These pathways lead visitors up from the main entrance, through outdoor exhibit spaces and towards an impressive gold auditorium.
"The design reflects our investigations into the form of ancient cities and our appreciation for the desert landscape," says Foster + Partners' senior executive and partner, Norman Foster. "It also maximizes the opportunities presented by the elongated site – the dramatic canyon-like entrance welcomes people inside, and the channels between the high walls provide intuitive circulation, naturally leading visitors to the auditorium, exhibition and courtyard spaces."
Italian architectural firm, Nemesi & Partners created the award winning Italian Pavilion, which is clad with a smog-filtering concrete facade. The pavilion is made from special air-purifying cement created by Italcementi and stretches over 9,000 square meters (96, 875 sq ft), which took an estimated 2,000 tonnes (2,204 tons) of cement to accomplish the feat. Eighty percent of this special air-purifying cement is made from recycled materials, such as scraps from Carrara marble.
Inside the Italian Pavilion visitors can wander thorough 14,000 square meters (150,695 sq. ft) of interactive and innovative spaces that promoting the country’s rich landscapes and strong agricultural and culinary traditions.
Make sure you head to the gallery to enjoy the entire collection of stunning photos from these pavilions, skillfully captured for Gizmag by Italian Art Director Edoardo Campanale.