The Universal Expo is coming to Milan in 2015, and construction is already underway for the major six-month event. The Universal Expo occurs only every five years, and encompasses a “universal” theme that is global in nature. This convention’s theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” in which sustainable development regarding food supply and energy consumption will be addressed in a multinational forum with over 120 countries.
Because of its size, there is also a rare urban opportunity at hand. The site is one square-kilometer in size, located in northwest Milan, within the municipality of Rho. The area is a former industrial center, and is now undergoing a conversion to integrate the community into the urban fabric of Milan. One of the most notable projects in the area is architect Massimiliano Fuksas’ FieraMilano-Rho convention center (built 2005), adjacent to the future location of Expo 2015.
So what is the importance of Expo? From an urban planning perspective, it has a drastic physical effect on the city. One of the most famous examples today is the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which was built for the 1889 Expo. That also resulted in the Champ de Mars, a large green that now functions as a central point for Parisians and tourists alike.
While it does not appear that Expo 2015 will have this level of architectural impact on Milan, there will still be significant, permanent implications. The Expo will be connected at the international level along a high-speed railway connection, as well as to the rest of Milan via the M1 subway line. A new pedestrian bridge will rise over the highway and large railway on the south side of the site, giving the area ample foot traffic.
If this event has the ability to change the nature of urbanization in this town, then it goes without saying that the future of this site is not inconsequential. Should this area be built in accordance with the existing urban fabric, or left like Paris’ Champ de Mars? What do you think the best solution is for Milan?
Credits: Photograph by Maxwell Vidaver. Image and data linked to sources.