Italian architectural firm, Nemesi & Partners, has revealed its award winning plans to clad Palazzo Italia in Milan with a smog-filtering facade as part of the Milan Expo 2015. The unique pavilion will be made from a special air-purifying cement created by Italcementi and will stretch over 9,000 square meters (96, 875 sq ft), requiring an estimated 2,000 tonnes (2,204 tons) of cement to accomplish the feat.
"The entire outdoor surface and part of the interiors will consist of i.active Biodynamic cement panels," says Italcementi. "In direct sunlight, the active principle contained in the material 'captures' certain pollutants present in the air and converts them into inert salts, helping to purify the atmosphere from smog."
Some 80 percent of this air-purifying cement is made from recycled materials, such as scraps from Carrara marble. The Palazzo Italia will also be fitted with a photovoltaic glass rooftop to generate solar energy during the day.
Turning to the unique architectural design of the facade, Nemesi & Partners wanted the building to act like a kind of urban jungle, not only aesthetically but by also mimicking the role of trees in city landscapes – which naturally help purify the air. Inspired by nature, the final design resembles large stretched out tree branches which wrap themselves around the iconic building.
"The overall concept of the architectural design of the Italian Pavilion is that of an urban forest in which the building, through its skin and its volumetric arrangement, takes on the features of an architectural landscape," says Nemesi & Partners. "The branching pattern of the external cladding of Palazzo Italia coherently interprets the theme of the tree of life, inserting it in the form of a petrified forest."
Palazzo Italia will be a central feature of the Milan Expo 2015 and, according to city plans, the cement facade is set to become a permanent feature, remaining long after the Expo has ended.