“Sharing is wealth because sharing means distributing resources”. This is how yesterday, Wednesday 8th April, Francesco Fresa – co-founder of the Milanese architecture studio Piuarch together with his colleagues Germàn Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini and Monica Tricario – started his speech at Spazio Sforza, Expo Gate Milano while presenting the two Pavilions (“but I prefer to call them installations”, the designer pointed out) designed for Enel and Caritas for Expo 2015.
“In our opinion, this was an important theme we have always paid attention to, in order to give strength to the architectural concept of both structures: if for Caritas this concept has focused on sharing to multiply, not only food, but also ideas, places and knowledge, for Enel it refers to sharing energy resources”. In both cases, “sharing” means seizing opportunities.
The presentation of the Caritas Pavilion came first. “This structure is small and austere: a cube that breaks into different parts to reveal all its wealth, through multiplying volumes that establish relations, synergies”, explained architect Fresa. The five “rooms” that are thus created are similar, but not equal in size, and their arrangement changes according to the functions they host.
The common denominator is simple shapes and materials: the metal structure can be mounted as a Meccano model construction and is covered by a simple PVC mesh that makes it possible for air to circulate freely, thus making the need for an air-conditioning system redundant and providing natural light, with subsequent energy saving benefits.
This is how a minimalist construction goes hand in hand with the logic of a sustainable project that leads to virtuous solutions: among these, there is the possibility of dismantling and re-building the structure elsewhere, thus changing it, for instance, into a school or a service centre to provide first-level support to the needy.
In Enel Pavilion, on the other hand, the message about sharing is conveyed through the innovation of the “smart grid”, an electricity delivery system which distributes energy in an effective and sustainable way as an alternative to conventional grids.
“At the origin of this project”, explained Germàn Fuenmayor, who attended the meeting with his colleague Fresa, “there was the smart grid that Enel created to generate power for the whole site where the Expo will be held. From a structural point of view, the system runs through the floor with a modular grid, where electricity and data can “flow”; furthermore, 650 polycarbonate carriers, which are the nerve endings of the system, connect with the grid.
The result is a dramatic virtual volume, a “non-place” generated by vertical elements that shape a sort of virtual wood, lit by led lamps. An overhead wooden runway leads visitors to the discovery of this magic landscape (energy carriers generate unexpected light and sound effects), where densely planted areas act as counterpoints to the “virtual” wood. “The core of this microcosm”, concluded
Fuenmayor, “is the Control Room, where you can discover all the secrets of the smart grid”. This provides an opportunity to share the wealth of a technologically innovative solution, that can be exported also outside Expo’s frontiers, into the urban framework of our cities.