The Secrets of Palazzo Italia


8 April 2014

Biodynamic cement for Palazzo Italia: this is the innovative solution developed by Italcementi for the construction of the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2015.

For an ambitious project the leading Italian specialized companies have been called on to pitch in to design and build an extraordinary structure destined to become the icon of the 2015 Universal Exposition.

The “Palazzo Italia”, architectural design by Nemesi & Partners, envisages the construction of a complex structure whose exterior and some interior spaces recall the shapes of branches in a thick forest. The entire outdoor surface and part of the interiors will consist of BIODYNAMIC cement panels, obtained using Styl-Comp technology from the new material developed at i.lab, the heart of Italcementi’s research and innovation.

The product’s name is a summary of its innovative characteristics. The “bio” component is given by the product’s photocatalytic properties, originating from the active ingredient TX Active, patented by Italcementi. The “dynamic” component is a specific characteristic of the new material, whose particular fluidity allows the creation of complex shapes like those found in the Palazzo Italia panels.

«The 2015 Universal Exposition is a great opportunity for a general relaunch of Italy; it will be an occasion for our Country to showcase its excellence in a vast array of fields, from manufacturing to technology and science” said Diana Bracco, President of Expo 2015 and Commissioner for the Italian Pavilion. “Our Pavilion, inspired by the Vivaio Italia (Tree Nursery Italy) and Albero della Vita (Tree of Life) concept by Marco Balich, will be a window on the past, the present and the future of Italy. We want the Italian Pavilion to be an opportunity to showcase the innovation capabilities of our companies and to promote the development of sustainable products and eco-compatible technologies. An emblematic example of this will be Palazzo Italia, conceived as a landscape-like architecture where the building, through its structure and volume, takes on the appearance of a tree/forest into which visitors can plunge for a thrilling experience. Palazzo Italia will be the heart of the entire exhibition site, and the whiteness of its biodynamic cement branches will remain in the future as the icon of the 2015 Universal Exposition».

As the company that developed the transparent cement solution for the Italian pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010, Italcementi immediately seized the new challenge, relying on its 150 years experience in the world of construction materials. «From the silver medal at the 1867 Universal Exposition in Paris, through the international success of the Italian Pavilion, symbol of the Shanghai Expo 2010, to the new biodynamic cement that will characterize Palazzo Italia at the Milan Expo 2015: Italcementi is once again a key player in a Universal Exposition thanks to its innovative products “– said Carlo Pesenti, CEO of Italcementi.

The Italian Pavilion has been conceived as a place to protect and cultivate young talents, new energies, diverse cultures, and also to set an objective for our work”  says Marco Balich, artistic director of the Italian Pavilion “The objective is hope and confidence in our abilities and in our future as human beings and as Italians.

Our architectural design for the Italian Pavilion takes inspiration from an urban forest” explained architect Michele Molè of Nemesi & Partners, author of the architectural design of the Italian Pavilion. The volumetric complexity of Palazzo Italia is based on four main blocks organized around a central void/piazza and connected to each other by bridge elements; inside these blocks are organized the main macro-functions: Exhibition Area, Auditorium, Offices and Conference Rooms. Just like trees, the four architectural volumes rest on massive supports simulating the huge “roots” of the exhibition pathway on the ground floor; these same volumes, viewed from the central piazza, expand and widen upwards, loosening their light “foliage” across glass surfaces, stretching out their “branches” and dynamically weaving a web that reaches up to the great roof terrace.

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