When in Milan … Expo 2015

by Sally Steele


The Boulevardiers have been to EXPO 2015. We were impressed, surprised, entertained, humbled, underwhelmed, treated to a world-class press tour of the Switzerland pavillion, in awe of the Korea pavilion, left with big thoughts, and big questions.

Sustainability, the ifs ands and buts are resoundingly evident at EXPO 2015, more here. Does this drive all the traffic to EXPO, doubtful? If attending makes each person think twice about how the bounty in many parts of the world depletes the planet, then mission successful.



EXPO 2015 Map

Wikipedia: Expo 2015 is the current Universal Exposition being hosted by Milan, Italy. The opening took place on 1 May 2015 and the expo will close on 31 October 2015. This is the second time Milan has hosted the exposition, the first being the Milan International of 1906.

The theme chosen for the 2015 Milan Universal Exposition is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. This embraces technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity and how they relate to food and diet. Expo 2015 will further develop themes introduced in earlier Expos (e.g., water at Expo 2008 in Zaragoza) in the light of new global scenarios and emerging issues, with a principal focus on the right to healthy, secure and sufficient food for all the world’s inhabitants.

The concerns of many futurologists about the quality of food in the years to come are compounded by forecasts of increasing uncertainties regarding the quantities of food that will be available globally. These concerns, expressed early on in studies at MIT for the Club of Rome, were largely ignored at a time when it appeared that increases in resource availability would outstrip increases in consumption. However, the rapid depletion of agricultural surpluses has clearly manifested the urgency of the problem: How to feed the planet and prevent hunger.

Each of the 145 participating countries is hosted in a self-built pavilion and is represented on the official Expo website. Switzerland was the first country to commit to participating in EXPO 2015.



Switzerland Pavilion

The Concept: With its unique take on the theme of Expo Milano 2015 Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life, Switzerland, which was the first country to join the Expo Milano 2015, reflects on the scarcity of food resources in the world and shows the other side of abundance.
Its pavilion is made up of four towers, full of local food products which the visitor can take away. But there is a limit to the resources available… to exceed that limit is to deprive other visitors of the same opportunities.
water (2)

Switzerland pavilion, countdown clock = remaining water supply

Thanks to the modularity of the structure, the platform on which the towers stand is lowered as they are emptied, allowing everyone to see for themselves their own habits of consumption. The project, which focuses on the availability and distribution of food resources in the world, invites visitors to reflect on their behavior as consumers.


Expo in Milano, Italy, 2015

Switzerland pavilion, all about apples

At the time of our visit, two of the towers were emptied already, 3 weeks into EXPO all of the water & apples were gone, the towers descended, point taken.


Switzerland pavilion, where does all that water come from...

Switzerland pavilion, where does all that water come from…

Water is another theme of this pavilion, a spectacular room of sculpted granite maps the geography and traces the path of water in Europe, it is fascinating. The “where does it all come from” question is not ours, we come from California, ask us “where did it all go” and we will tell you, we wasted it and believed the rain & snow would never stop. We have stopped remarking to anyone who will listen that is takes 1 gallons of water to yield one almond…we are at a loss for any words every time we think about the dark red splotches that indicate our groundwater is perilously non-existent.  Governor Brown recently passed legislation to regulate the depletion of acquafiers in California, finally.


EXPO 2015, Food for thought

EXPO 2015, Food for thought

Concept: At Expo Milano 2015, the Republic of Korea provides an arena for dialogue on the future of providing food for humanity. A future in which food is provided in a safe, healthy and equitable manner. The Republic of Korea Pavilion showcases the diverse culinary practices that are rooted in the country’s cultural traditions. In addition, it explores ways to further enhance their relevance in both the present and the future of human society, utilizing highly advanced science and technology in the fields of food, environment, and human physiology. We found the Korean Pavilion to be the most compelling pavilion graphically.


Korea pavilion

Korea pavilion, food everywhere

The pavilion is constructed with the architectural theme of the “Moon Jar”, a traditional pottery vessel in the shape of the full moon. During the past, pottery in Korea was transformed from simple ceramic grain bowls into beautiful celadons and porcelains. These bowls represent Republic of Korea’s theme of Expo Milano 2015. The Republic of Korea Pavilion explores the possibilities of taking its precious heritage of culinary tradition into the future, and demonstrates how to apply these traditions to resolve challenges for the whole of humanity. These traditions are based on Koreans’ long-held belief that nature is not an object to be conquered by humans, instead it is to be revered and understood. Republic of Korea believes that the answer to humanity’s challenges of providing food should come from nature itself. Through diverse exhibitions and dynamic participatory activities, the Republic of Korea Pavilion shows that a healthy and sustainable food culture can also be full of fun and exciting.
Give yourself time to explore the Korea pavilion, every part of it is interesting and though-provoking; and do not miss the multimedia presentation, video is here: Symphony of Food!


Expo in Milano, Italy, 2015

Korea pavilion, Symphony of Food, photograph by Kim Steele

Expo in Milano, Italy, 2015

Korea pavilion, photograph by Kim Steele


This EXPO is also about design. Wandering the thankfully covered main walkway, many of the pavilions are another kind of feast…one for the eyes.
Brazil Pavilion

Brazil pavilion, photograph by Kim Steele














China pavilion

China pavilion, photograph by Kim Steele







From the EXPO official site: The explicit commitment undertaken by Expo Milano 2015 since the early phases of its candidacy, has been to produce a great event, focusing on respect for the environment, local communities and where they live.


Sustainability is a central pillar of this commitment, an overarching, universal value that permeates all aspects of the Expo starting with the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” projected to a sustainable future, for the planet and society as a whole. In particular, the environmental commitment of Expo 2015 SpA takes form in the implementation of criteria necessary for sustainability applied to all aspects and the entire lifecycle of the event, in order to prevent, mitigate or compensate any possible negative impact on the environment or on local communities.  We felt that given this opportunity to educate, the immense topic was not covered in enough depth.


Expo in Milano, Italy, 2015

USA pavilion, vertical farm, photograph by Kim Steele

The theme and agenda for EXPO 2015 is ambitious: Being a relevant place for the exchange of experience and best practices, the Universal Exposition of Milan represents a special opportunity for spreading sustainability principles related to food production, as recalled by its Theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” and to the organization of events. Starting from this consideration, the Italian Ministry of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea has developed, in collaboration with Expo 2015 SpA, the “Towards a Sustainable Expo” Programme, aimed at stimulating and enhancing the adoption of solutions and initiatives in a sustainable perspective.The “Towards a Sustainable Expo” Programme is directed to all the Participants as well as to all the other Companies and Organizations, taking part to Expo Milan 2015, that are already involved in the implementation of or, are going to implement,  one or more initiatives related to the sustainability of their participation to the Event. The “Towards a Sustainable Expo” Programme recognizes four main categories:
  1. Sustainable architecture of Self-Built Pavilions and exhibition areas
  2. Sustainability of food offered by catering and food services (which were numerous)
  3. Sustainability of furniture, packaging, merchandising and of the organization of events outside the Exposition Site
  4. Other initiatives not classifiable in the above mentioned categories

We found a day full of surprises at EXPO 2015. Our Milan based Boulevardier, Sara Nitti (who last wrote on the new Prada Foundation) will update on what happens post-EXPO to the site and all of its constructions…we have heard it will become a sports complex, we’ve heard that before…the remnants of such complexes litter the world. If you are in Italy, and in Milan, we recommend a visit, a day well spent, with interludes of excellence in inspiration and art.

Parenthetically, The Boulevardiers visited MAXXI in Rome, a new museum, which was also devoted to the Food theme. They presented a very intriguing display covering one floor, on the history of grain and granaries on our planet, that we also recommend.

Expo in Milano, Italy, 2015

EXPO artist, photograph by Kim Steele


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