ENEL Pavilion


ENEL Pavilion was a competition design, scoring top position, for Milan Expo 2015. Piuarch designed the pavilion as a virtual volume with 650 polycarbonate vectors expressing the of the smart grid

The Concept
In designing the ENEL Pavilion for Expo 2015, Piuarch wanted to express the concept of “energy sharing” in an architectural theme. Not through a “building-container,” but rather with the creation of a virtual volume: a place, generated by a grid onto which 650 polycarbonate vectors are grafted. The arrangement of these constantly changing, illuminated vertical elements defines the volume that encompasses within itself a series of other volumes and green courtyards.

The Structure of the Smart Grid
The pavilion occupies an area of 900 sqm overlooking the Decumano (main east-west road).
The initial matrix of the project is the intelligent network that ENEL created to power the EXPO site.
The basic element of the space – both conceptual and structural – is the grid which can be seen on the ground. It is precisely this grid which, by means of a network created with metallic elements carrying the distribution of electricity and the flow of data, conveys the idea of energy sharing. This network is spread across the floor and gives the system a wavy pattern.
Grafted onto the network are vectors that represent the system’s nerve endings. Made from clear polycarbonate tubes with a diameter of 150 mm and a height varying between 5.3 and 7 meters, the vectors create a virtual forest, illuminated by a series of LED placed on the grid.

Interaction & Perception
The interaction between the visitor and the environment is a fundamental part of the concept. The perception that the visitors will have of the virtual volume changes continuously in relation to the point of observation and the movement of people: the alignment, misalignment and overlapping of the vertical elements produces a continuous changing of the visitors’ perception of the space.  The kinetic effect is accentuated by the vibration produced by the variations of the light.

The project also proposes a playful aspect that allows the visitor to penetrate freely into the “forest” and to interact with the vectors through unexpected situations of light and sound. Green plays an important role in enhancing the experience; in both the three densely wooded courtyards and the areas surrounding the pavilion a great variety of plants and herbs are used that belong to the “Mediterranean garden.” Full of colourful, lingering blossoms, these are designed to adapt to the changing seasons, expressing their message for the entire duration of the Expo.

The Visit Experience
An elevated walkway is the dynamic experiential path that leads visitors through both the virtual forest and the natural forest. The lush green courtyards make the topic of sustainability the beating heart of the system.
The wooden walkway is covered by a printed glass roof that protects against rain and creates a shaded space. A nebulizer system adds to the walk and soft music creates an evocative atmosphere.
An interactive informational strip running along the entire path leads visitors into the virtual forest.

The Control Room
The Control Room is the operational and nerve center of the entire ecosystem. This mirrored environment is inside the virtual forest, films and interactive elements allowing the visitor to understand how the entire intelligent system works.
This is complemented by a stage machine composed by kinetic mirrored elements that echo the pattern of the network even in the control room.
A second glassed area has a showroom and entertainment areas that have the virtual forest on one side and a terrace on the other. The glass surfaces are treated to create varying degrees of transparency and reflection, producing a feeling of lightness.
The system is powered by energy obtained from photovoltaic panels installed on the pavilion.

Text & Video courtesy: Piuarch  & Photograph courtesy: Andrea Martiradonna

Don’t miss out to check their video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiNurgc_EpQ

Fact File
project name: ENEL Pavilion
location: Expo’15, Milan, Italy
client: ENEL
concept & architectural design: Piuarch (Francesco Fresa, Germàn Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini, Monica Tricario)
design team: Gianni Mollo, Marco Dragoni, Davide Fascione, Enrico Pellegrini, Jenny Spagnolatti, Gianluca Iannotta, Alessandro Leanti, Santiago Trujillo, Anna Zauli
built area: 900 sqm
visual experience: To Do – h+ – (H) Films
systems design (MEP):
ESA Engineering
Francesco Gori, Laura Cocchini, Laura Razzolini, Claudia Iacopo
structures design:
FV Progetti
Filippo Valaperta, Sabina Franco, Orlando Briccola
greenery design: Cornelius Gavril
quantities measurement, technical specifications & safety:
GAD Studio
Paolo D’Adda, Luca Cedrelli, Vittorio Grechi
photograher: Andrea Martiradonna


About the Firm
Piuarch was established in 1996, the brainchild of its four founding partners: Francesco Fresa, Germàn Fuenmayor, Gino Garbellini and Monica Tricario. Today, approximately 30 architects and engineers, from all four corners of the world, work there headed by four partners and 11 associates. Piuarch’s projects take form from the recuperation of industrial areas to public buildings, complexes for residential and office purposes, and town planning.
The encounter with Dolce&Gabbana marked the beginning of a collaboration that has been going on for 10 years and that has resulted in the realization of more than 40 boutiques all over the world – the Milan headquarters of Dolce&Gabbana, the Factory in Incisa in Val d’Arno and the requalification of the ex Metropol theatre, now multi-functional space for event and fashion shows. In recent years, Piuarch has developed a number of projects abroad. Among the most recent projects: the Pavilions for Enel and for Caritas at EXPO 2015 Milano, Givenchy Flagship Store in Seoul (South Korea), Quattro Corti building in Saint Petersburg, chosen by Gazprom Neft as its Headquarters, the new Dolce&Gabbana office building and the office building in Porta Nuova, both in Milan. Currently, under construction is the redevelopment of the former Caproni areas in Milan. Piuarch is awarded “Italian Architect of the year 2013” by the National Order of the Architects and in collaboration with in Rome.

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