Vegetation, herbs and hop flowers will take centre stage between the latticed timber structure of Paris-based XTU Architects’ French pavilion for the World Expo 2015 in Milan.
The competition-winning proposal responds to the expo theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” by presenting a building based around a vision of the market hall as a centre for agricultural production.
“At the time of short-circuit retail, [the project] reinterprets the market model – once a place of exchange, tomorrow’s market will be a place of production to be consumed on the spot,” said the design team.
The project will use digital fabrication techniques, while the criss-crossing layers of timber will give the building a rigid structure.
Curved hallows will frame the interior while the designers are hoping that the vine hops will grow upwards through the gaps in the lattice.
The ground floor will be dedicated to an exhibition about France’s food production while upstairs, a restaurant will serve vegetable grown on site using hydroponic processes and aromatic herbs planted on the terrace.
Due to the variety of crops, the architects imagine that the underside of the undulating ceiling as an upside-down landscape that mimics the rolling hills of the French countryside.
“Below the horizontal roof, the Great Market presents itself as a ‘reversed’ and spectacular landscape that makes the buzz, a landscaped ceiling that evokes the French identity born from territories,” they said.
The pavilion will be constructed by May 2015, in time for the opening of the expo. Towards the end of the exhibition, the pavilion will host a festival to celebrate the harvesting of the hops.