Since its first participation in a Universal Exhibition (Philadelphia in 1876), Mexico has always delivered an impressive pavilion that captures the imagination. The fundamental theme of Expo Milano 2015 is sustainability, being as much a driving principle for feeding the world’s population as a criteria for architectural design in terms of eco-friendly materials, ease of construction and dismantling, and fulfilling proposed programmes.
Architect Francisco López Guerra Almada, together with Jorge Vallejo and consulting biologist Juan Guzzy, designed the winning proposal of the international competition based on the most typical Mexican food: corn.
The jury chose between the 39 proposals submitted, by evaluating the quality of the spaces, the form and the functionality of the architectural design, the speed and simplicity of construction and the environmental sustainability of the proposal. The Mexican Pavilion has an area of 1,910 square metres and it is set in a prime location at the intersection of the two main avenues.
The interior offers an all-encompassing exhibition of typical products, edged by a stream of water that gives life to the gardens and takes visitors along spiral ramps to explore the gastronomic, ecological and cultural riches of Mexico. The frame is inspired by the shape of corn leaves.
There are 19 leaves along the perimeter of the building, all different from each other, with variable height, from 12 to 17 metres. These leaves create a second skin and give dynamicity to the façade. The main structure of each element has been realised using round pipes, and it is covered with printed PVC/PES mesh. The layout of the ribs in the corn leaf has been adapted to each tridimensional shape, created by the architect. The image obtained for each leaf was then reproduced in real scale, subdividing the maximum lengths of the rolls of the material.
The two longitudinal façades of the inner structure have been designed as large double layer ETFE windows, fixed to an aluminum profile, to allow an amazing view from inside the building to the external leaves.
The inner court is enclosed within a lightweight cushion structure of three layers to allow natural lighting to the inner space of the pavilion by ensuring high thermal performance.
Project: Mexican Pavilion
Location: Milan, Italy
Architects: Francisco López Guerra Almada, Mexico City, Mexico
Technical info: PVC/PES mesh and ETFE
Picture credits: Pygmalion Karatzas