Living Nature Pavilion, Milan

Designed by: Carlo Ratti Associati
For client: Salone del Mobile.Milano Floor area: 550.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: 年度展览设计

Public Score
3.23 Function
3.41 Innovation
3.35 Creativity

About the Project

Living Nature was a garden pavilion in which all four seasons were able to coexist simultaneously thanks to an innovative system for managing energy flows in a sustainable way. It was developed for Salone del Mobile in Piazza del Duomo, Milan’s central square, during Milan Design Week. The 500 square-meter, 5-meter high pavilion housed four natural climatic microcosms, immersing visitors in nature as they wandered through winter, spring, summer and autumn. Each season presented a different design theme, with furniture provided by well-known brands – living room for spring, picnic for summer, office for autumn, playroom for winter. Aside from the fun of both throwing snowballs and sun-tanning in the space of a few minutes, “Living Nature” also explored two crucial themes: the relationship between nature and the city, and the effects of climate change. The former is a recurring theme in Western history, from ancient Greece to Frank Lloyd Wright’s urban utopias. We asked ourselves: how can we bring nature back to the city, and in what form? A more urgent issue addressed was climate change. The pavilion pioneered an innovative energy management system for climate control: the plants in the pavilion were housed under a selective crystal membrane that dynamically filtered the sun based on input from light-reactive sensors, while above the pavilion, photovoltaic panels generated clean energy, providing the required energy to cool the winter area or heat the summer one.

What’s unique about it

Living Nature presented an alternative reality in which natural spaces form a seamless part of our cities without placing a burden on the environment. In the space of ten days, it was visited by 20,000 people and seen by hundreds of thousands more walking through Piazza del Duomo. Through an elegant design, it sought to free climate control from its association with excessive energy consumption, opening up vast potential for its applications in the future. The concept of bringing nature back into the city sustainably was realized harmoniously through a synthesis of the four seasons and furniture from well-known companies, included to reflect the design event and stress how it is our daily lives that could change thanks to these technologies. The design also prioritized user experience, as visitors had the chance to feel for themselves the potential of climate control technologies in an exhibition space that let them traverse a year’s weather fluctuations in 10 minutes. All the plants in the four different microcosms – which included 23 species of trees and many grasses and bulbous plants – were given the lighting and temperature conditions of their optimal habitat without damaging the project’s sustainability – the pavilion had a net zero carbon footprint. Living Nature sought to show the important role digital technologies will have in improving quality of life in cities while ensuring necessary goals, like sustainability, are met.

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