Expo 2015, Milan towards the future

Its appearance has already changed significantly compared to a while ago. Rather, I’d say that we’re seeing the final push in a programme to remodel the city’s skyline that began a little before the first financial crisis. – Maria Vittoria Capitanucci

Expo 2015 in Milan is a great opportunity for one of the most important cities in Europe, both from the point of view of finance and culture. In the wait of this universal event, which involves dozens of private and institutional stakeholders, Milan is undergoing an urban revolution of unprecedented scale, to be ready to welcome the 20 million tourists who will visit the Universal Exposition in 2015.

The focal points of the city, Fieramilanocity’s Portello and the Centro Direzionale Garibaldi are becoming more and more modern and functional. But the actual urban revolution is taking place in the area where the great exhibition of Expo 2015 is being set up, in the west of the city, near Fieramilano, in Rho Pero, about 20 minutes away from Malpensa airport. A futuristic exhibition center that will run on the sides of a more than 1,5 Km long main way.

Expo 2015 is the perfect platform for presenting the Milan of the future, a metropolis protagonist of the new global scenarios, a meeting between the North and South of the world.

The theme chosen for Expo 2015, Feeding the Planet Energy for Life, is an opportunity to reflect on the great issues of food, nutrition and energy, through creativity and innovation. These are global challenges that involve primarily the South of the world, where the issue of hunger is a matter of life or death, but also the sustainable development of cities such as Milan, a city of millions of people where quality of life needs to be improved.

The theme of Expo 2015

Feeding the Planet Energy for Life means engaging in the challenge to ensure food availability and nutritional quality. Because there’s a really big problem here: 850 million people on our planet suffer from hunger and thirst. Worldwide, malnutrition means high infant mortality, but also social diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, epidemics.

This scourge must be fought with willpower, research and technology, all of which are at the basis of a correct food chain. Willpower must regard the commitment of Institutions to projects associated with food and education, starting from children and adolescents. Research must focus on new solutions to preserve bio-diversity and natural ecosystems, thus promoting sustainable agriculture. Technology must provide useful tools to optimize food storage and distribution.

Expo 2015 is therefore conceived as an event to improve the welfare of people, through the valorization of the food traditions of the single countries, so that nutrition may become the engine that provides the energy for sustainable development. The Universal Exhibition of Peoples is also a great communication opportunity for those who work within the food chain, such as farmers, scientists engaged in research, as well as food, logistics, retail and catering companies.

Only by sharing these issues, perspectives and solutions we can find immediate answers to save millions of people from hunger and thirst, and to ensure a future of growth and conservation of the global food heritage.

How is Milan changing for the Universal Exposition?

There will be over 20 million visitors to Expo 2015 in Milan, an average of 60-70 thousand per day. A huge flow people crowding the fairgrounds to visit the many international pavilions, and then visit Milan as tourists. So in order to be ready for this leap, Milan is renovating its enormous cultural heritage, and in view of the impact that the Expo will have on the city, for several years now the urban landscape of the capital of Lombardy has been gradually changing.

The decision to move the exhibition halls for large events from Portello area to Rho-Pero, taken long before knowing that Milan would have hosted the Universal Exhibition of 2015, has turned up to be very useful. Fieramilano Rho-Pero is directly involved in the event also thanks to its proximity to the new exhibition site of Expo 2015.

The Garibaldi area, where the Centro Direzionale is, Porta Garibaldi Station and the grand palaces of the city and regional public institutions, have completely changed appearance. Once here there was the Varesine amusement park and large empty spaces. Nowadays, roads have been widened, but mostly, many new skyscrapers have been erected, new parking lots have arisen and the access to Corso Como has been improved, to allow easy reach of one of Milan’s leisure areas.

In the area of the former Fiera Campionaria, Portello, the skyline of the city is completely changed. The fairgrounds that in the early 1900s occupied a large area in the west of the city, between Piazza Giulio Cesare and Piazzale Carlo Magno, has disappeared. In its place, City Life is arising: a project studied by three famous international architects Arata Isozaki, Zaha Hadid, and Daniel Libeskind, a large redevelopment project that schedules the construction of three skyscrapers to give hospitality to the business sector, along with a public park, a Museum of Contemporary Art and commercial areas. In Via Scarampo, where in recent decades new pavilions have been set up, stands Fieramilanocity, and overlooking Piazza Carlo Magno, you’ll see the Mic, Milan Convention Centre.

The city is changing, both because of Expo 2015, but also because it needed the restyling of some areas suffered from the ravages of time. Also Milan public transport network is changing for the occasion. The new subway lines, scheduled to become fully operative in the coming years, some of which in time for the Expo (line 4 between Milan Linate Airport and Milan Lorenteggio, line 5 between Monza and the San Siro Stadium, through Porta Garibaldi and Citylife, and the extension of Line 3 south towards Lodi and north towards the Milanese hinterland) represent the challenge to the future of a modern and business-oriented city, a city determined to provide citizens and tourists a better living.

The Masterplan of Expo 2015

The exhibition site of Expo 2015, designed by internationally renowned architects such as Stefano Boeri, Jacques Herzog and Ricky Burdett, has a very simple and functional design, but will allow participating countries to organize their own exhibition spaces according to their own creativeness.

In the architects’ plan, the Decumanus, the great central avenue, is an axis that symbolically joins the place where food is consumed (the city) with the place where it is produced (the countryside). Along the Decumanus, the countries that will participate in the Expo (between 130 and 150 in total) will tell about their experiences and agricultural wealth. The idea is to create a kilometer of sensory experience, amid flavors and fragrances, food tasting and cultural cues, all related to nutrition and wellness.

The Expo site, designed like an island, is surrounded by a large canal, perfect tribute to the network of canals and Navigli that once crisscrossed the city of Milan. All the service areas, bars, restaurants and shopping areas are overlooking the water, in order to provide pleasant moments of relaxation to those who visit the Universal Exhibition.

The most important sites of the great exhibition center, which covers an area of over 100 hectares, are: La Collina, Piazza d’Acqua, the Expo Center and the Open Air Theatre.

La Collina (the Hill) has a maximum height of 22 meters and hosts the Mediterranean agro-ecosystem. Piazza d’Acqua (Lake Arena) is a circular basin surrounded by steps with 3000 seats, or suitable to accommodate 6,000 standing spectators: this is where water shows, concerts and other initiatives will take place on floating stages. Near Piazza d’Acqua stands Palazzo Italia. The Expo Center comprises three independent functional blocks: an auditorium, a performance area and the office block. The Open Air Theatre will host 9000 people between the steps and the big lawn during the concerts and official ceremonies.

The whole exhibition center is designed as a multifunction facility, where space can be used for both countries’ presentations, and the organization of shows and events. In the evening, in fact, Expo 2015 will not close its doors, but will rather be the heart of an intense cultural activity, where visitors, tourists, citizens, and exhibitors will enjoy moments of confrontation, tasting ethnic foods, meeting people from ‘other worlds’ and discussing the issues of life and nutrition.

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