built in 2005. rho-pero exhibition complex or labeled by the architect, the new milan trade fair, an ambitious project.
It also turns out to be a green project as well. This post focuses on the expansive use of glass and it’s favorable environmental qualities and the green overall nature of this project.
Massimiliano Fuksas describes his project:
“The New Milan Trade Fair is part of that family of projects of a great dimension which includes airports, stations, distribution centers, harbors, and generally speaking, “the cathedrals” of new society.
These are places which go beyound their crucial economic functions. These are the places of meeting, of ideological exchange, of relationships, of opportunities.
New Milan Trade Fair is a great architectural project for the territory. Its dimension renders it one of the major complex nowadays on building in Europe. It’s part of the recovery of wide urban spaces, of the territory which goes beyound the borders of the city itself. Areas which aspire to become “geography”, landscape. The abandoned areas and suburbs call for important interventions.
The critical mass of the intervention, more than 2 million square meters and more than half million of construction, are the starting point. I thought about a unity complex, of simple geometry.
The project is characterized by the great central axis: the great transparent coverage modifies spaces and represents the continuity of the vision. The service center, the offices, the convention area, are the fulcrum of the entire system, transistion from honour “entrance” to central axis. On the sides, the pavilions, with big facades made of reflecting metal, bring back the life and the images of the pathway.
Architecture is “contaminated” art: she lives in other universes, she observes modifications and changes, she attempts to synthetically represent what happens. Architecture is not only inspired by architecture, but she tends to comprehend and to talk to everyone.
In a moment of very few “visions” looking to the future, and the mere runing of quotidian life and of existence, this project seems to be part of the European more dynamic scenery. It exists a demand and a desire of architecture, of emotions. This project is ambitious. It is addressed to the future visitors, and firstly, it tries to pay much attention to people wo will work and spend their days inside the Neww Milan Trade Fair.
Our country resumes a route which has been interrupted for more than 30 years, thus putting under construction one of the most important international trade fair complex.” [MF]
The pavilions’ 20 exhibition modules link via a 1,300-meter long central passageway suspended 6 meters above the ground. The eight pavilions create a gross exhibition area of approximately 345,000 square meters; the external exhibition area covers 60,000 square meters. The hotels, eating areas, and a commercial gallery with more than 200 shops within the complex also offer recreation and culture. Approximately 20,000 parking spaces serve visitors.
Drapes of glazing.
Excerpts of Glass Magazine…
Says Terry Peterson, vice president of sales for the engineering firm for the project. “The ability to create a single-layer fully glazed structural grid in the form of the Alps pushes the technological boundary out well beyond current standards.” The Vela is nearly 1 mile long, 100 feet wide and clad with approximately 500,000 square feet of glazing.
Free-form structures such as these defy the rules of common shapes—flat in-plane, pyramidal, barrel vault, dome or hyperbolic surfaces—and take on shapes totally free in form. “The edges can bend up and down with the frequency of a mountain range, obviously with material limitations that prevent complete flexibility,” Peterson says. Free-form structures are typically metal clad, usually stainless steel. The Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago’s Millennium Park, designed by Frank Gehry of Los Angeles, is a good example of metal-clad free-form architecture. “The steel support structure is hacked out and welded up in creating a bizarre shape,” Peterson says. “Then the hacked-up and ugly steel is clad over and completely concealed by the stainless steel cladding material.
However, with a glass free-form structure, you cannot hide the steel underneath, because glass doesn’t offer the opacity of metal cladding. Therefore, it is much more challenging, because the steel support structure is completely exposed and must work with the glass cladding in creating beautiful architecture.”
A green project.
For the construction of the New Fair, the land-owner, Fondazione Fiera Milano, a private company, cleaned up a brownfield area of 1.5 million square meters that had been a burden on residents of the surrounding territory for years, according to the Internet site. The Agip gas refinery previously occupied the site. The cleanup took a little more than a year. Of the reclaimed area, 180,000 square meters is green, with 2,500 trees in the fairgrounds and a 9-hectare park in the northwest side of the complex. The complex uses ground water for cooling heat pumps, thereby saving drinking water. It is heated by a heat-valuator plant in nearby Figino that runs on urban waste from Milan. The plant also produces electricity, and an emergency electricity line from Figino to the New Fair will be set up to provide power in case of a blackout, according to the site. Special photo catalytic titanium-based paint used in the complex oxidizes or decomposes the pollutants present in the atmosphere or produced by combustion. The paint work on more than 100,000 square meters of treated surface area in the complex can neutralize the pollution from 30,000 vehicles, the site claims.
The time line.
The New Fair, said to be the largest fair complex in the world, was built a square meter per minute for a total of 10 million hours, according to its Internet site. Construction was scheduled to be completed in 30 months, but Nuovo Polo Fieristico S.c.r.l of Rome, the general contractor, took 24 months to complete the project from the first foundation pole to the opening, the site says. Fifty-five percent of the structure was produced outside of the site, in Italian and other European workshops, and assembled on site in a “large open-air meccano.” More than 9,000 workers from 62 countries lived and worked together in what may be among the largest construction sites in Europe. More than 300 companies were involved. Workers from foreign countries lived in a village created for them in Mazzo di Rho that had approximately 1,000 beds. They ate at a canteen with 450 seats.
July 2003: Award of contract
July 2003-October 2003: Approval of planning and programming works
November 2003: Full-size mock-up for Vela
November 2003-June 2004: Fabrication planning
November 2003-October 2004: Fabrication of columns, nodes and struts
December 2003-November 2004: Glass fabrication and delivery
February 2004-December 2004: Installation and hand-over
Designer: massimiliano fuksas[full story at glass magazine]
photography: Mario Marinoni