Architects: XTU architects
Location：Ingresso EXpo, Milano, Italy
Design Team: Nicolas Senemaud, William Bianchi, Stefania Maccagnan, Gaelle Le Borgne
Partners: Atelien Architecture(Architects),Studio Adeline Rispal (Exhibition Designers), Innovision (Multimedia), Licht Kunst Licht (Lighting Designers), Grontmij (Engineering), Oasiis (Environmental Technology and Engineering), Agence Laverne Paysagistes (Landscapers), Viasonora (Sound Designers), BECP(Kitchen Designers), Chevalvert (Graphic Designers), Lordculture(Cultural Engineering), Les Films d’Ici(Film Production)
Type: Culture, Exhibition
France is a major agricultural country. Geology has endowed it with an abundant array of terroirs and it boasts a deep-rooted genealogical heritage that thas given rise to cultural and gastronomical traditions celebrated throughout the world. The French Pavilion conveys this productive diversity with a new twist on the iconic covered market through shapes that simultaneously echo the territory and “pieces” of the landscape.
1 A territory building
How do you symbolize France’s identity when it comes to food?
How has consumption and production changed?
How do you showcase innovations from France?
1.1 The market archetype
The architects began by talking with agriculture experts and sociologists, which gave them an image of France’s food identity as a product of its amazing geological and genealogical diversity. These natural resources shaped the peaks and valleys, the climate regions, the way people use the land, the varied cultures and products – and its superb cuisine.
The contest specifications referenced the Halles de Baltard market, a landmark of production and consumption, a timeless confluence of all the links in the agri-food chain. XTU galvanized the idea of a covered market as the crossroads where all foods meet and decided to produce what it considers the archetypal market: free-standing spaces sheltered under one huge roof.
1.2 A built landscape
“France symbolizes a cultural wonder, industrial know-how, the good life,” reflects architect Anouk Legendre.”That is what we wanted to show the world by inventing a ‘built landscape’ that all at once portrays the geographic diversity of France’s regions, its unique agricultural offerings and culinary traditions.’ When asked about the them “Feeding the planet, energy for life,” XTU says, “Terrain as fertile ground for the new food revolution,” with a building that stands for the promise of France’ regions.
The pavilion, inspired by France’s hexagonal shape, seems to have been pushed up here and there by tectonic shifts.
This “built landscape” has sidled into the “market” on the underside of the ceiling, the only part crowds will see as they stream into the 2,000 m2 space. Contorted by reminiscent ripples, the “landscape ceiling” casts a striking feature that abstractly depicts the wide breadth of France’s terroirs. That is what introduces the scientific content staged by Adeline Rispal’s exhibition design.
2 The structural principle
Eager to lure in visitors, the architects engineered a full-immersion approach to the stagecraft by pushing the “pull factor”. The “territory building” invites people from the outside to embark on a journey inside. Once past the pavilion’s doors, visitors are plunged into the upside-down world of the hilly countryside. Tree-like pillars support the “lived-in roof” that frames the spaces, functional areas and pathways; the ground floor houses the exhibit booths, an actual market and partner zones. Unlike conventional covered markets where products are displayed in stalls, the staged version features a variety of themes the pavilion covers in chambers created by the structure.
These “vaults of plenty” serve up a menu of offering like regional specialties, delicacy tastings scientific and biotechnological research, agro-ecology, new agri-food technologies, genetic discoveries,life chemistry and beneficial flora.
The next floor hosts offices and VIP rooms. The top floor is a restaurant.
The glue-laminated structure is completely made of French wood: the interior in spruce and the exterior in larch.
Every building element – from the main and supporting structures and ceiling to the floorboards and facades – is made of interlocked pieces forming a single unified edifice that simultaneously outlines the exterior casing and the simultaneously outlines the exterior casing and the interior expanse. The carpenters Simonin used a super-high precision digitally controlled robot to cut out every angle of the framework with the architecture software. The main structure is made of lattice girders and pillars spaced at 4.5m and braced by a supporting framework slotted in every 1.5m.
The result is a series of highly uniform rightangle cubicles. The project is ground-breaking because this orthogonal frame is “cragged”(notched) into uneven shapes called “frees” that create a stunning vault-like effect. The complex geometry of the French Pavilion’s framework creates a roller coaster of curves that demonstrates wood’s ability to mould into unexpected organic contours. Beyond its dramatic form, this marquee is a showcase for French innovation in wood architecture using invisible fastening systems patented by Resix.
2.3 A low-tech green structure
The French Pavilion adopted a low – tech approach, so the entire building can be taken apart and put back together. With its cross-ventilation and the central clerestory designed for its heat extraction process, the “landscape market” will be naturally ventilated and cooled down, making it a low-energy consumption building.
WA: How does your pavilion design respond to the them of the Expo – Feeding the Planet?
XTU: Regarding the them of the Exhibition, it was an obvious fact to choose wood as the main material. Compared with other structural materials, wood is the most environment-friendly. The glue-laminated structure is completely made of French wood: the interior in spruce and the exterior in larch. The main structure is made of lattice girders andpillars. The result is a series of highly uniform right-angle cubicles. The pavilion makes a reference to the diversity of regions and French identities. The shape of the building follows the diverse geographical topology of the country – its hills, the mountains, the valley.
Inside, a big market, inspired by the “Les Halles de marche Baltard”, is set in the form of a ceiling with an inverted landscape, indicating a scenography around French products and agricultural wealth.
WA: What is the most creative and attractive tectonic design in your pavilion project?
XTU: Two main challenges were: how to have the invisible fixations: solved by the use of the patent (certificate) Resix – and, how to have a continuous shape with “plastic artistic effect” – the cutting (division) “slice curve” of the subface of beams, as solved by the use of robots of cutting.
CHEN Haoru: A wooden gird structure planted with vegetables, herbs and hops, as if entering Salvador Dali’s surrealist world. Anouk Lengendre and Nicolas Desmazieres show the way to present the transformation process of farmer’s market. The structure form a new irregular geometry reminiscent of vaves or organic forms. Combined with the use of natural materials, this building became almost an artwork of land scape, clearly expresses relationships between agriculture and nature, and formed a cohesive market atmosphere. The external part appears to have three levels, on inside it is only one level of continuous high cave space, a gesture that is thought-provoking.
YU Chunshui: Architects’ temperate concepts reflect their clear logic as well as the integrity of design and planning. Through a built landscape with fruit trees and vegetables from France, visitors reach the main building for landscape architecture and come into the exhibition hall spontaneously. The design absolutely follows the route and the feelings of the visitors. A big upside-down form inspired by the “Les Halles de marche” market, the glue-laminated structure and the interlocked pieces forming of woods, all give a strong sense of the purity of the design. A huge continuous free space of upside-down building looks like the peaks and valleys, and the towering trees of France. French food products and ingredients, seasonings, cookware and digital screens are all inlaid and huge up in unit grids of wood structures, integrated exhibition with building. “Form follows function”.