© Huftonandcrow

May 2014, the day Wang Shi, president of China’s prestigious real-estate developer Vanke, in It was 13th front of Giuliano Pisapia, Mayor of Milan, Liao Juhua, Consul General of China, and Giuseppe Sala, General Commissioner for Expo 2015, unveiled the renderings of his pavilion. Today, through a proper planning of the entry procedure, the work stands up, almost finished, on its allotment, in a strategic location, not far from Lake Arena and Palazzo Italia.

The project, designed by Daniel Libeskind’s studio, with the interiors decorated by Ralph Appelbaum and Han Jiaying as graphic designer, stands out for its powerful figurative character which, through the organic plasticity of the parametric shell, calls to reflect on the key topics of Expo 2015 (Feeding the Planet) by adding a new twist to a traditional Shitang: the Chinese dining room.
A very attractive statement feature which will not go unnoticed by people visiting the Expo, the spectacular shell of the pavilion, entirely clad in three-dimensional stoneware slabs, has been coloured a quaint lacquered red. The application, jointly developed by Daniel Libeskind and Casalgrande Padana, has been entirely cladded in the exclusive Fractile ceramics manufactured by the Italian company. The distinctive feature of such slabs is the special solution adopted for the finishing layer, which, through a special process and a unique geometrical raised pattern, produces a three-dimensional dynamic effect. Emphasised by a metallic sheen, if exposed to light the ceramic material crumbles up and comes to life again in multiple light reflections dancing on the outer shell.

The interior calls one to reflect on the importance of the places where meals are taken and how to design a place that goes far beyond mere functionality. Over 300 screens installed on a bamboo frame will lead visitors through a journey in a day in the life of ordinary Chinese farmers and the importance of Shitang in their daily life, along with events that will explore some elements of China’s cooking culture, such as implements, recipe books, tables and even the traditional chopsticks.
China’s impressive urban growth rates and ensuing social disintegration are condemning people to loneliness and solidarity has all but disappeared. In this respect, Wang Shi says, with its pavilion Vanke wants to draw attention to the delicate transition from the traditional ceremonies to the behaviours of contemporary society, as evidence that forms of socialisation can and must be found in properly-designed places.

With a turnover of 2.3 billion US dollars, Vanke is China’s most important real estate developer. Listed on Shenzhen stock Exchange, it manages over half a million properties and serves 1.5 million people. Founded in 1984 on ethical principles, transparency and professional skills, it has been named one of “China’s Most Respected Companies” for eight years on end, for its excellent business performance.

Daniel Libeskind
It has come to international attention as a designer of the Jewish Museum in Berlin. His unique design method, the result of his personal involvement in the most diverse disciplines, from philosophy to art, from literature to music, is reflected in his works, which run across multiple areas of architecture, from urban planning (he is the author of the master plan for the NY World Trade Centre) to more or less complex buildings, such as museums, conference centres, universities and residential estates. An example of the latter is the just-finished Le Residenze for City Life in Milan, entirely cladded with Casalgrande Padana’s ceramic slabs.

Casalgrande Padana
For over 50 years, Casalgrande Padana has been manufacturing advanced ceramic materials in its six all- Italian plants. Innovative and eco-friendly solutions for facings, floors and panels that do respond to any creative and technological requirement in the world of architecture and design. Culture of production and culture of design have always been the key areas for the company, which is engaged in an intensive process of research and experimentation for the continuous improvement of the appearance and performance of its products.