Though it is still one year away, Milan got its first taste of hosting the World Expo this past weekend when the city's Expo Gate officially opened. Conceived as a link between the historic centre and the Universal Exhibition that takes place 20 minutes outside of the city, Expo Gate is a 19m metal structure situated in front of Milan's imposing 15th century Castello Sforzesco.
Designed by Italian architect Alessandro Scandurra of Scandurrastudio, the structure is composed of two booth-like pavilions around a central square. Its modular, transparency-based design was inspired by other areal frameworks such as the Eiffel tower. But unlike that historic structure, the Gate imparts its power with a low-impact building strategy that allows for an easy build and reconversion, as well as a construction composed entirely from recyclable materials.
The Expo gate will serve as an info point as well as a stage for multimedia interdisciplinary events connected to Expo 2015 over an 18 month period. The entire program of activity, including this weekend's inaugural kick off party, has been conceived by artistic curator Caroline Corbetta.
The action kicked off on Saturday with a marching band parade that originated in Piazza San Babila, complete with highschool students wearing eyemaks made by the workshop #CheFacciaHaMilano and 2000 balloons designed by Matteo Cibic. The mob made its way to Expo Gate where it was met with a DJ set by Italian songwriter Dente and a video installation by Vanessa Beecroft. Projected onto the gate's massive walls were Beecroft's VB52 and VB65, organized in collaboration with Milan's Lia Rumma Gallery.
With the Expo's theme 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,' food was, of course, on the inauguration menu. Top Italian chefs including Davide Oldani, Carlo Cracko and Andrea Berton riffed on the stuffy risotto Milanese by transforming it into casual street food fed to thousands of happy Italians. Entitled Risata Colorata the traditionally yellow rice was shot with shockingly ethnic touches including dates, daikon and curry and offered for 5 euro a plate, the proceeds of which will go to Gustolab Buoni Come il Pane charity.