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    Daniel Libeskind’s dragon-like Vanke Pavilion at 2015 Milan Expo cased in ruby red 3D tiles

    Geraldine Chua

    The 2015 World Expo in Milan will open this Friday, and along with it, the 12-storey ruby red Vanke Pavilion by architect Daniel Libeskind.

    Studio Libeskind was commissioned by Chinese real estate company Vanke to create a pavilion that would explore the key issues related to the Expo’s theme, ‘Feeding the Planet’. Inspired by the traditional Chinese landscape painting of rock formations, rice fields and prehistoric outcrops, the 1,000sqm pavilion takes on a coiled serpentine form covered with 3D red metallised tiles.

    The ceramic tiles were developed by Libeskind with Italy’s Casalgrande Padana, and installed with an innovative system that not only secures the slabs, but can also angle or overlap them individually to suit any design requirements. These geometric panels create an expressive pattern, and possess highly sustainable “self-cleaning and air purification properties”.

    “The pavilion aims to tell the story of civilisation, technology and the 21st Century as well as offer a space for reflection and a celebration of different cultures,” the architects say.

    It took over 140 tonnes of steel to make the backbone of the structure, Casalgrande Padana says, and about 4,200 of the stoneware Fractile slabs to clad the building.

    Appearing to rise from the east, the pavilion opens up in the middle to reveal a white mosaic-clad staircase. Up above, the rooftop observation deck with a garden will provide views of the nearby Lake Arena and Italian pavilion.

    Walking in, visitors will meet with a constellation of more than 300 screens mounted on a matrix of bamboo armatures, comprising about 8,000m of canes. The LCD screens display short videos that afford viewers with a glimpse into the everyday life of ordinary Chinese citizens in the shi-tang (dining room), including their eating habits and everyday items.

    Within this theatre the interior design, led by Ralph Appelbaum (New York/Beijing), features 45 x 90cm stoneware slabs in select areas, an echo of Libeskind’s design on the shell. The graphic design is by Han Jiaying (Beijing).

    The Pavilion will open on May 1 and remain on view until October 31.

    Images: Studio Libeskind

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