As the world’s population explodes and resources become scarce, food security is a critical issue that affects the entire human race. The 2015 Milan World Expo has convened over 160 countries, corporations, and international organizations to seek out solutions for providing the world’s seven billion people with abundant, healthy, and safe sources of food. Biber Architects‘ 35,000 square foot USA Pavilion tackles this challenge head-on by exploring advanced technologies, infrastructure, and systems to feed the planet.
For starters, there’s the pavilion’s massive vertical farm, which flourishes with 42 varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs. The plants are set in automated “ZipGrow” modules that fan out to provide plants with optimum sun while moderating the amount of light that enters the building. These hybrid hydroponic planters contain some soil to better store nutrients and water. A team of “vertical farmers” will clamber up the pavilion’s walls to harvest fresh produce throughout the Expo.
The American Food 2.0 pavilion’s rooftop deck is sheltered by one of the world’s largest SmartGlass installations. The panes of glass are digitally controlled, and they can quickly change from transparent to opaque to regulate solar exposure. A rooftop rainwater storage system harvests H2O to nurture the vertical farm.
Upon entering the pavilion, visitors walk up a ramp made of wood reclaimed from New York’s Coney Island Boardwalk. The building’s hangar-like entrances, transparent walls, well ventilated interior, and open floor plan speak to Biber Architects‘ goals of transparency, freedom, and openness – a marked departure from past US World Expo pavilions.
Speaking to Inhabitat, Architect James Biber said: ” We wanted to create the most transparent, the most porous, the most inviting and welcoming pavilion… that you can experience in a number of ways.” Rather than being directed through a set route of programmed content, visitors are invited into the pavilion to peruse the exhibits at their own pace. Biber went on to explain how the pavilion was shaped by the idea of the road – from its long and narrow site (20 meters x 130 meters) to the use of reclaimed boardwalk wood and the fleet of food trucks parked around the corner. These elements were inspired by the idea that “Americans really socialize on streets – we don’t really have piazzas, but New York [for example] is a city of streets – and that’s the public realm.”
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat