Faced with the challenge of giving a recognisable identity to the Spanish Pavilion for Expo 2015, hosted by Milan under the theme “Feeding the planet, energy for life”, we decided to use one of the most typical elements of agricultural architecture as the main point of reference: the greenhouse. This geometrically simple but technologically complex construction is a faithful reflection of the sophistication of today’s food industry.
The success of today’s Spanish food industry is largely thanks to a combination of tradition and innovation. The pavilion’s architecture seeks to recreate this feature in a composition that takes the form of a pair of twinned pavilions, differentiated solely by their material finish. The first pavilion corresponds to tradition, represented by a repetitive series of exposed laminated timber frames which fulfil the mission of providing structural support while at the same time forming a grid that defines the space. The second pavilion is related to innovation. In this case, the frames are clad with polished stainless steel, blurring its boundaries with reflections and evoking today’s high-tech world.
As a temporary building, the Spanish Pavilion not only manages energy and material resources in an efficient and responsible way, but also makes this efficiency visible. In addition to the use of natural and/or prefabricated construction products, the predominantly semi-outdoor zone is a curious feature that permits the minimisation of areas requiring air conditioning and the intensification of the relationship between the pavilion and the environs outside the fair precinct, an additional insinuation of the nation that it represents and its people’s enjoyment of street life.