Pavilion Zero for Expo Milano 2015

by Michele De Lucchi
18 Love 4625 Visits

The crust is a strange thing: normally it forms by itself through gradual transformation the matter's surface, thus becoming the shape.

A crust of dirt will form moment by moment, layer by layer, leaving its mark in the subsequent seams of sedimentation. It does not form in one fell swoop as in Pompeii where the lava became a crust that erased everything for centuries and centuries.

Michele De Lucchi, Montagne, black pen on paper, black sketch book n°8 / 2012 



This crust of lava lets us think of how important and delicate the crust on which we walk is, as it protects us from the red hot core on which our planet rotates.

We have dedicated our progress to go to the moon to explore the universe, but we know little of what we have under our feet. It is a mystery so close , a few hundred metres below us and is just as great as what we see a billion light years away above our heads.

The crust is our landscape, our sphere of life, the goal of all possible safeguards that is tender and delicate. The crust of the hills, the mountains, the plains covered in moss,  that which produces forests and vegetation, grass and trees, colors, and fragrant fresh air


Michele de Lucchi, Montagne, wood , 2012 - 2013



When it's there we realize what it’s worth and how much we need it.

Fortunately, nature is stronger than men and we can only hope that it will take over at the end and decide what is right and what is wrong, who is to survive and what will die - unless of course it is the whole human race.

The crust is our environment, our landscape and our stage where we play out our favorite roles.

It deserves to be in the most important museum of the earth, however it does not yet exist and will never exist because there can never be a museum so important, and in any case, I hope that it will never become a museum, but rather, that is remains beautiful and available to everyone.

Expo 2015 exhibition site, Michele De Lucchi, pencil on paper, 2012



Pavilion 0 is the first to greet Expo visitors arriving from its North entrances, which are the farthest from central Milan but served by the MM Subway and the State Railways. Appointed to introduce the theme “Feeding the Planet – Energy for Life”, Pavilion 0 illustrates the richness of that multifarious title, explored by nations from all over the world in their exhibition spaces.

Thus, it is an emblematic pavilion, expressing through its form and its visual impact all the expectations of this renowned event. Its role is therefore not purely didactic, but primarily representative. Conceived as a large slice of the earth’s crust, it is neatly cut and lifted to invite visitors to discover the deepest secrets of our planet. The planet is presented as a sectioned mountainous area, and inside the pavilion, visitors will discover a valley set among gently sloping hills.

The pavilion has a rectangular floor plan, with an entrance located on one of its short sides and the exit located on the opposite side. It occupies an area of about 7000 sqm.

The slopes are treated with contours which reproduce the physical texture of  hills. Thus, the whole roof is formed by tiers that transform the mountains into gigantic flights of steps, which allow for a rediscovery of the beauty of the curves that used to make up the land. They are made up of differing layers, illustrating a world made of layers, like a lasagne. It is almost magical to see a mountain taking shape layer by very thin layer; and to observe how the bizarre form of an isobar is explained by the one beneath it and the one above it. The mountains are seen from below, so that the eye is inevitably lifted towards their summit, making us feel very small in a vast world.

The whole pavilion is built in wood, with a mono-textural effect. Wood is the planet’s living matter, the one that best conveys the fragility of nature to contemporary mankind.

 Michele De Lucchi, april 2014





Expo Milano 2015 S.p.A.



Davide Rampello


Architectural project

Michele De Lucchi

Project team

Angelo Micheli, Silvia Figini, Agnieszka Drews, Alessandra De Leonardis, Marcello Biffi


Structural framework and technical installations

Milan Ingegneria S.r.l.


Building contractor

P&I Project Integrator


Sito espositivo Expo 2015, Rho, Milano (Italia)


2012-2014 design; completion in progress


7.400 mq


Sketches by Michele De Lucchi, 2012

Images courtesy Michele De Lucchi's Archive

    • Michele De Lucchi

      Michele De Lucchi


      Milan / Italy

      Michele De Lucchi was born in Ferrara in 1951. After graduating from the School of Architecture in Florence, he worked as a teaching assistant for Adolfo Natalini. At the time, he came into contact with the radical design movement and founded the Cavart group, gaining him notoriety and boosting his future career. He then moved to Milan, where he became friends with Ettore Sottsass, with whom he worked in one of the most representative groups of 1980s post-modernism. The Memphis group was a collective committed to creating a new language by playing with the recovery of 1970s kitsch elements favouring plastic and laminated materials, with a clear bent for rational industrial production. De Lucchi also took part in other significant collective experiences at the time, like Centrokappa and Alchimia. Thanks to Ettore Sottsass, starting in 1979, De Lucchi began his collaboration with Olivetti as a design consultant for Syntesis in Massa. Then, in 1984, he went to Ivrea, becoming the head of the Olivetti design office from 1988 to 2002. In parallel to his work with Olivetti, the architect continued to work independently. He won such prestigious commissions as the design of the Deutsche Bank and Poste Italiane offices, and Intesa San Paolo, for which he was involved in the creation of the bank's credit cards, and the design of the Piazza della Scala office in Milan. In 1989, he received the prestigious Compasso d'Oro award for the Artemide "Tolomeo" lamp - the result of the concept of innovating the classic pantograph table lamp, an object created with a declared technical and functional purpose recalling the imagery of the office and design, making it an elegant and modern furnishing accessory. "Tolomeo" also refers to historic design icons like the FontanArte "Naska Loris" from 1933 and Jac Jacobsen's 1937 "Luxo" - later made famous by the Pixar logo. It was immediately destined to become a best-seller. His collaboration with Artemide led to the creation of many other lamps and the extensive Tolomeo collection. They include Castore, Dioscuri, Ipno, Logico. De Lucchi has also collaborated with Alias, De Padova, Poltrona Frau, Caimi, Glas Italia, iGuzzini, Danese and De Castelli. In 1990, he established his own brand, Produzione Privata, to create furnishing complements and accessories. He did not abandon his activity as a designer, which involved him in exhibition and museum design, for example, for the Neues Museum in Berlin. He also restored the Design Museum at the Triennale in Milan and the former Agip service station in Piazzale Accursio in Milan. Starting in 2017, Michele De Lucchi was editor-in-chief of Domus magazine with an editorial line characterised by a mix of disciplines and content ranging from Design to Philosophy, and the constant investigation of space and objects in relation to human needs.)