Daniel Libeskind recently unveiled renderings for his sinuous 2015 Milan Expo pavilion developed for the Chinese real estate giant Vanke. The first foreign corporate participant at the Expo, Vanke intends to use its presence to strengthen Sino-Italian ties and to highlight the stories behind China’s rapid urbanization. Following the Expo's theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," the red, twisting pavilion will be developed in the style of a shitang, or traditional Chinese dining hall, that will serve healthy and affordable food.
In addition to its central theme of food, the Vanke pavilion will also explore Chinese social issues caused by rapid urbanization such as the feeling of loneliness by aging empty nesters and the alienation of rural children left behind by parents who seek out work in faraway cities. The “media forest,” an indoor installation with nearly 300 multimedia screens, will offer a glimpse into those feelings of alienation and loneliness. Each screen will play an 8 – 10 minute short film that follows the lives of ordinary Chinese people across the country and will explore the theme “Building Community Through Food.”
Inspired by the shape of an auspicious rock in Chinese landscape painting, the fluid and twisting shape of the pavilion will be covered with red scale-like tiles. An external staircase wraps around the structure and leads to a rooftop terrace that doubles as a dining space. According to the Vanke president, the shitang pavilion will aim to capture the big picture of city living in China and will serve as a reminder of the importance of human connection, not material goods. The pavilion marks Vanke’s second involvement in the World Expo; their first pavilion was a low-emission wheat straw board structure built for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.