Milan Trade Fair
City within a City
"A project this size is like working with a landscape," says Fuksas of the daunting task which included designing approximately 60 buildings. "It's more space than most architects build in an entire lifetime."
Constructed in response to the city's need to expand its over-charged convention and exhibition activities at the Milano Fiera City, where many of the fashion shows take place, the new space will compete with other large venues around the world, including the one in Hanover, Germany.
The Milan Trade Fair is claimed to be the largest site of its kind. It will house events like the architectural "Build Up Expo" scheduled for February 2007.
In addition to garnering attention for its innovative design, the convention center also won the Urban Land Institute's 2006 Award for Excellence for its ecology and land reclamation. Built on an Agip oil refinery site at the end of the Rho-Pero metro line and lodged between downtown and the Airport, the site relieves traffic congestion related to the Milano Fiera City convention center.
The project also transformed a portion of the grounds into green space, planting some 2000 trees and creating a 22-acre (9-hectare) park. The facility draws from groundwater tainted by the oil refinery for cooling heat pumps, thus conserving potable water.
It also uses Milan's solid waste, treated at a "heat-valuator plant" a short distance away, as fuel to produce its heat and some electricity.
Walls treated with a special photo catalytic titanium-based paint oxidize or decompose pollutants present in the atmosphere. The paint coats more than 1.1 million square feet (100,000 square meters) of surface area, and its manufacturer claims it can neutralize the pollution produced by 30,000 vehicles, the average number arriving daily for exhibitions.
The architect boycotted the inauguration in April 2006 — three days before the national elections — because of the presence of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. "Architecture is like children," Fuksas says. "I did not want it to be exploited for political ends." Instead, he hopes the center will contribute to international attention returning to Italian architecture.
Author Debra Moffitt contributes to ArchitectureWeek and other U.S. and European magazines and recently completed her first book of fiction.
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