The Expo 2015 building site is approximately an area of 1 million square meters. The project was entrusted to a group of designers supported by internationally renowned architects, including Stefano Boeri, Ricky Burdett and Jacques Herzog.
The design of the new development follows the footprint of the ancient Roman city. It revolves around two orthogonal axes: the Decumano and the Cardo. The Decumano, also called World Avenue, will be 1.5 km long and includes the main entrance as well as all of the pavilions. The Cardo, on the other hand, is 350 meters long and runs perpendicular to the main axis, marking the crossroads of the central area where Italy is building the exhibition facilities.
The master plan resembles the design of a small-scale, self-sustaining city that goes along with Expo's theme of "Feed the Planet. Energy for Life." If you look at the zoning chart, the area is built like an island, full of green spaces surrounded entirely by water.
The site can be reached by metropolitan red line and the regional/national rail network. These connections will be enhanced via an underground passageway known as the West Pedestrian Access. In addition, a new pedestrian and bicycle network stretching more than one kilometer in length will connect the urban fabric of Milan to the new site. This will provide access from both sides of the site, from Cascina Merlata on one, to Fiera Milano on the other.
The site's green areas are divided in two: those on the outside corridor, and internal green spaces. The area surrounding the periphery occupies 80,000 square meters and is designed to act as a buffer zone between the Expo site and its surroundings. Another 12.5 hectares are taken up by internal green islands between pavilions.
Another important natural element, water, is represented by the Canal and the Lake Arena. Expo's Canal is symbolically linked to Milan's canals and makes it possible to irrigate the site's green areas and control the local micro climate. Water is supplied directly from the Villoresi Canal, which crosses the area north of Milan. The redevelopment of this network of waterways is part of a complex landscape and environmental enhancement project. The result will be 125 kilometers of bicycle and foot paths along the canals, which will be redesigned for public use. The Lake Arena will be an open-air facility surrounding an artificial man-made lake. This, in turn, will be surrounded by a piazza measuring 28,000 square meters, bordered by three concentrically arranged trees. The entire structure will accommodate up to 20,000 visitors.
Each participant country is in charge of designing their own temporary, sustainable pavilion using innovative design techniques to minimize the building's environmental impact. The organizers provided guidelines to help develop sustainable solutions in the design, construction, and reuse of their exhibition spaces. As for the host country, Italy's Pavilion will include an entire complex of buildings and open spaces that will play an important role in attracting all visitors to Expo Milano 2015.
Construction for Expo started in October 2012, with "Expo cantiere" monitoring the progress through the project of “Belvedere City." It does not come as much of a surprise that Switzerland was the first to complete architectural work on its pavilion, finishing on January 29th. The other participating countries are far behind. The question that everybody is asking is: Will Expo be ready by May 2015?
Have you attended a city Expo? If so, what was your experience? Will you be attending Milan's Expo 2015? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images 1 and 3 by Alexandra Serbana. Data and image 2 linked to sources.