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Holy See Pavilion Expo Milano 2015

“Not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” This verse  from the gospels is at the heart of the message the Holy See wishes to express at Expo Milano 2015.  And it does so by focusing visitors' attention on the strong symbolic relevance of food and nourishment,  and the important role it plays in anthropological development.  The Holy See pavilion is therefore designed to offer its visitors a space for reflection on contemporary  issues related to food and access to food.  The covered part of the Holy See pavilion covers a total floor surface of 500 m², and is set in an area of  750 m².  The compact white volume represents the essential nature of a pre-existing mass that can only be  accessed through a narrow fissure. 

The spacious atmosphere inside the pavilion is inspired by conventional architecture, such as cloisters.  The northern section is particularly distinctive as it is shaped from two arched sections, a round arch and  an acute arch, from which the vegetation on the roof spills out, as if from a crack in a rock.  To guarantee low construction costs the structure features a steel load-bearing framework that is  assembled on-site with no welding required. The 318 m² roof consists of corrugated sheet metal, part of  which is covered with greenery. The load-bearing structures, substructures, intermediate floors and roof  are all made of metal. The same level of care has been take over sustainability. In fact, the pavilion is a  sustainable, high energy performance building. At the end of the Expo it will take only two working weeks  to dismantle the load-bearing structure, roof and cover materials. 

The pavilion stands out particularly for its sloping planes that are decorated with words expressing the  basic concepts of Christianity. These words are created from slim, light steel letters that when attached  to the outer facades look almost as if they have dropped there from the sky. The phrases “not by bread  alone” and “give us our daily bread” are translated into 13 different languages and are highlighted both  by day and by night. During the day the effect is created by natural light that throws shadows of the  words onto the cover behind. Whereas, at night, artificial upward grazing effects creates an interesting  and mysterious counter light. The goal of evoking the major principles of the Christian religion has been  achieved by positioning neutral Linealuce luminaires at the base of the lit walls.  Visitors enter the pavilion through a kind of gate covered by a large yellow fabric sail that conceals the  entrance and creates a facade that is similar to the Vatican flag. The colour of the sail is intensified by  warm colour temperature Linealuce luminaires positioned at the top of the sail that create a flood of  warm downlight. 

The original canvas of Tintoretto's Last Supper decorates the wall opposite the entrance. This has been  brought to Expo Milano 2015 from the Chiesa di San Trovaso in Venice and will be exchanged halfway  through the fair with a tapestry of the Eucharist by Pieter Paul Rubens, from the Diocesan Museum in  Ancona.  The infopoint and the general exit area are lit with iN 30 linear luminaires.  The lighting project created by the Esa Engineering studio plays a fundamental role in the design of the  pavilion given the importance of light as a metaphor in the Christian religion. The products all feature  LEDs to guarantee maximum energy savings.


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  • Year
  • Client
    Expo 2015 Spa
  • Architectural project:
    Quattroassociati (Corrado Annoni, Stefano Parodi, Michele Reginaldi, Daniela Saviola) con Massimiliano Lazzarotti, Silvia Todisco
  • Lighting project:
    Esa Engineering S.r.l
  • Photographer
    Paolo Carlini