Top 3 picks at the World Expo Milano 2015

HLW London employees Shizuka Nagaya, Kaylin King and Mustafa Afsaroglu took a tour of the remarkable site of the World Expo 2015. This global event was held in Milan from May through October. More than 140 countries, excluding international organizations, participated in this year's architectural phenomenon. Each country represented their nation's take on the core theme of "Feeding the planet, Energy for life."

Expo Milano Fun Facts

  • The first Expo in 1851 was held in Crystal Palace, London.
  • Every 5 years, universal expositions take place, with international expositions intermittent.
  • Initial plans for the event were developed by Richard Burdett, Jacques Herzong, William McDonough, Joan Dusquets, and Stefano Boeri. However, a group of young architects, recent graduates from Polytechnic University of Milan, finalized the plans.
  • The Expo Milano is the first large-scale event to compensate for 100% of its greenhouse gas emissions. This was accomplished through local projects, conservative agriculture practices, and purchase credits from relevant international projects.
  • It’s the first expo to produce specific guidelines for countries, partners, and suppliers. The guidelines address sustainable approaches to construction and materials selection.
  • The initial planning process introduced the idea of clustering participants to accommodate countries without pavilions. This strategy allowed for more international participation.    

HLW’s Top 3 Pavilion Picks

Japan (Giappone)

The average queue time for the Japanese pavilion was five hours, a big hint at how good it would be. Still, our expectations were exceeded in a way that we were not expecting! A collaboration between architect Atsushi Kitagawa, industrial designer Nendo, and “ultra-technologist” TeamLab, this masterpiece transcended the physical attributes of the pavilion. It also took the user on an innovative digital journey that stays with them.

Each stage of the pavilion journey allowed us to learn about sustainable rice fields through TeamLab’s magical installation, collect recipes through the pavilion application, and when time permitted experience the restaurant of the future, which was the final stop on the top floor.

The digital experience was impressive. As designers, though, our hearts were stolen by the simple 3-dimensional detailing of the exterior walls, which consisted of a self-supporting timber interlocking grid design by Atsushi Kitagawa. This was enough to make you swoon.

United Kingdom

Our second favourite pavilion designed by British artist Wolfgang Buttress was inspired by UK being the hive of innovation embracing new technologies to address the hunger of future populations. The multi-levelled structure is made up of 169,300 individual aluminium components with integrated lighting by Hoarre Lea and audio installation designed to translate the real-time buzz of a bee-hive in Nottingham.

Visitors explore their way through a path cut into a field of wild flowers, leading them to the sculptural structure to reveal the multi-layered activity of the hive.

We managed to time our visit as dusk was beginning to settle, cueing the lighting became more prominent created a magical atmosphere, all finished with a serving of fish & chips accompanied by a jug of Pimms for three. 


Our number three is the huge ethereal pavilion designed by Studio Arthur Casas (architect) and Atelier Marko Brajovic (exhibition designer). The heavy corten structure with suspended rope trampoline creates an organic landscape allowing the users to climb above, explore a new point of view and have a bit of fun.

While we didn’t commit to the queue for the formal exhibition we walked around beneath the rope landscape amongst the farm patches, observing the curious atmosphere within the space; those exploring the gardens of plants; ‘Green Garden’ and those understanding the transparent rope layer and structure above.