When Mario Cucinella, during the Landscape Festival of Bergamo, talks about the absolute preview of the Padiglione Italia is designing for Expo 2025 Osaka, relies to three concepts: theater of life, ideal city and thinking with your hands.
They are concepts that start from man, from his existence, from his dreams and from his actions and which only subsequently transform into a project.
In Osaka, an Expo built like a large solar system, with an elevated walkway that will allow visitors to observe the sea on one side and, below, the national pavilions, Mario Cucinella will therefore bring his great experience as an architect but also as a researcher and activator of often forgotten communities.
And, as at the Italian Pavilion at the Biennale of Venice in 2018, this time too stories will be the true protagonists, collected far and wide in the Bel Paese through space and time.
They will be stories that start from the theme of Expo 2025 Osaka - The ideal city - and will transform it into a journey, to be enjoyed in a wooden theater "with the floor that creaks, like those of the past": inclusive, collectivist, able to give voice to that plurality of influencesand cultures of beauty and well-made things that have always been the heart of Italy.
What will the Italian Pavilion be like at Expo Osaka 2025?
Mario Cucinella: “It will be a journey to discover the many small theaters of life that populate Italy. Not only that of the large centers but, from North to South, also in the province, in the towns, in the communities. Because the subtitle of Expo 2025 Osaka is art regenerates life and with the Italian Pavilion we will talk about the ideal city and how the country has interpreted it over the centuries, often realizing projects that seemed visionary. But we will do so by underlining how without a humanistic approach, without a vision that leads to a better future - one of equality and access to rights for all - technology and innovation remain useless tools to the well-being of humanity."
How are you building the curatorial project?
Mario Cucinella: “We will start from research, which we are carrying out now, on the theme of the ideal city. There is the idea that designing a better place to live was the prerogative of the Renaissance but in reality Italy has been a factory of Ideal Cities in all its centuries of history. Let's think of Grammichele, Sabaudia, Gibellina, Zingonia, Palmanova, the working-class city of Martella di Matera, even EUR. They were visions that often came to fruition because it is human to want to design places where one can feel better.
The Italian Pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka will therefore be a journey through history which however will culminate in an Ideal City of the future".
And what does your Ideal City of the future look like?
Mario Cucinella: “Everyone today would say: a sustainable city. Full of trees, vegetable gardens, nature. And that's fine. But the truth is that without the possibility, which must be given to everyone, to live in this reality, the Ideal City does not exist. Filling the centers with greenery and then making them economically inaccessible is not the right way. I don't have a more precise answer to this question at the moment because we are in the planning phase. But I know that we will focus on accessibility, on social sustainability, on a city where people are at the center and not the economy, technology, innovation. Which are only useful if they are at the service of all humanity."
How will businesses be welcomed and what will their role be?
Mario Cucinella: “Given that we are in the design phase of the project and that everything is still to be built, we will target companies that have an affinity with this feeling.
We talked about what we will see but when talking about how we will achieve it, another fundamental theme in the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka will be thinking with your hands. So craftsmanship, the quality of know-how: from fashion to manufacturing, from ceramics to goldsmithing. Because if art regenerates life, talking about the quality of the artefacts is fundamental."
The Italian Pavilion has the shape of a theater. Why?
Mario Cucinella: “Italy is the country of opera, of representation, of sets that are still made by hand today. It is a melting pot of human stories which, together, tell a multifaceted way of life but also perceivable as unique, intimately Italian. Our idea was to make the visitor who enters the Pavilion perceive the sensation of projecting himself into a particular way of life: the one that has always kept Italy going."
In what terms will the Italian Pavilion be sustainable?
Mario Cucinella: “It will be a wooden kit that can be assembled and dismantled and each element can be reused. Not recycled but actually reused to re-propose the same construction or others, given that these are assembleable modules. In fact it is a prefabricated building, a hangar of knowledge. The partners we have chosen are local and obviously the materials will be local too."
The roof of the Italian Pavilion will be a garden. What kind of garden?
Mario Cucinella: “It will be an Italian garden, full of works of art, but in a contemporary way. A place to stop and admire from the elevated walkway. The theme of the garden is fundamental in our culture but also in that of Japan. And this will be a meeting place between the two imaginaries of both countries."
Expo Osaka 2025 will be held from 13 April to 13 October 2025. Interni is the communication partner of the project.