The whole world comes together in Milan

Kerry Boettcher
Friday 08 May 2015

This week the much anticipated 2015 World Expo in Milan opened its doors to visitors from all over the world

The theme of this year’s Expo is Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life. The structure must be easily dismantled and recycled, have disabled access and have open spaces filled with vegetation. Architects from all over the world are taking part in the Milan Expo 2015 and building their own creative and unique pavilions that reflect the identity of their nations. World Architecture News was ahead of the game and featured a string of some of the most notable pavilion designs. Here’s a round-up of what was featured. 


A lively and colourful pavilion designed by António Gameiro and Paula Nascimiento, the Angola pavilion’s theme is ‘Food and Culture: Educate to innovate’. It is a celebration of the African country’s culture and variety of unique cuisine. Nutrition is an important factor in many poor countries around the world, and this pavilion aims to raise awareness about good nutrition through interactive, multi-media installations.


Designed by the Simmetrico Network in collaboration with Arassociati, IDEAS and AG&P landscape architectural studio, the Azerbaijan pavilion comprises three large spheres, each housing a unique element of Azerbaijan, such as its unique geographical landscapes, its nine different climactic zones and its traditions and culture. 


Santiago-based architect, Cristián Underraga, has designed Chile’s pavilion this year. It invites visitors on a journey of the longest thinnest country in the world, from the Atacama Desert to Patagonia. Its simple design, typical of Chilean architecture defies the cornucopia of colours and flavours inside.  


This was China’s first pavilion for the world Expo, designed by Yichen Lu of Tsinhua University + Studio Link-Arc. The undulating roof imitates the shape of a traditional pagoda and uses bamboo extensively. It is themed ‘Land of Hope’ highlighting the general feeling in the rapidly developing country, and raises awareness of the need to harmonise the agricultural way of life with the growth of urban areas. 


This wooden wonder by Kadarik Tüür Arhitektid is a real treat. Everything from Estonian music, art and design, to Nordic food, craft beer and spirits, and even a giant swing for practising the country’s national sport of ‘kiiking’; it’s all there. Made of recycled and natural materials, the pavilions eco-features are also on show, with energy generated by visitors swinging on swings, and nature watching through hidden cameras. 


Nemesi & Partners designed Italy’s pavilion, which symbolises Italian culture and lifestyle. Of course, Italy is famous for its cuisine, so food features prominently. Themed ‘The Nursery of Italy’, it resembles a bird’s nest in a tree, which reflects nurturing of not only produce but also creativity and talent. Inside it is a community gathering space that takes visitors on a route of discovery up to a rooftop terrace. 


SoNo Arhitekti are responsible for this year’s Slovenia pavilion. The theme is ‘I Feel Slovenia. Green. Active. Healthy. The design is angular and minimalist, with a dynamic feel. It also has lots of natural features, including a living wall, meant to reflect the country’s natural beauty and the effect nature has on health and well-being. 


Spain is known for sun, sea and sangria, but it contributes much more than that to the world. B270’s pavilion showcases Spain’s great agricultural and culinary heritage. The theme is ‘Cultivating the Future’, and its design reflects that. It’s built to resemble a giant green house full of the colours and smells of natural produce. But of course, there is an element of sun, sea and sangria, with a patio of orange trees, and a beach bar for sipping sangria and nibbling tapas. 

United Arab Emirates

UAE’s pavilion has a good pedigree, being designed by world renowned British architects Foster + Partners. It is one of the biggest pavilions at the Expo this year, covering 4,386 sq m. The theme is ‘Food for Thought: Shaping and sharing the future. Imitating the desert terrain of the country, the undulating shape of the pavilion conveys the curves and slopes of sand dunes. Borrowing from ancient Arab planning principles, the interior reflect the cool, narrow streets of a walled desert city.

United Kingdom

Like a giant beehive buzzing with activity and life, this year’s UK Pavilion is a wonder to behold. Designed by Wolfgang Buttress, in partnership with Tristan Simmonds and BDP, the theme is ‘Grown in Britain’. We are all aware of how bees are in danger of dying out, yet they are one of the key elements of all life on earth, so the beehive structure is very evocative. It shelters typical British orchards and English country gardens as well as an impressive, pulsating projection of the activity inside a beehive. What the film about this design here:


United States of America

‘Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet’ is the bold theme of this year’s USA pavilion. Biber Architects wanted the open, transparent and sustainable structure to reflect American culture and its huge food producing heritage. Made of timber salvaged from an old Coney Island boardwalk as well as a perforated aluminium façade of red, white and blue, this truly American space highlights the USA’s contribution to world food production. 

The 2015 Milan Expo will be open to visitors until 31 October 2015. For more information on booking see the Expo website:

The 2015 Milan Expo pavilions contest was posted by WAN’s Business Information service in January 2014.The full competition brief can be found here. For a free trial contact Katerina Hojgrova.

Kerry Boettcher

News editor

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