Israel Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015 is focused on the theme of sharing knowledge and agricultural innovation. ArchiPanic met architect David Knafo of Knafo and Kilmor Architects who explained how a 100% recyclable architecture matches Expo main theme Feeding the Planet but also foresee green cities with vertical crops on building facades that produce food.
RELATED STORIES: Read more about Milan Expo 2015. From national pavilions to a complete recap on the sustainable architecture that must not be missed at the global event. Feed the Planet – Energy for Life.
Israel Pavilion features a 70 m long and 12 m high vertical field mostly planted with wheat, corn and rice and inspired by real crops. Developed by Israeli companies Green Wall and Netafim, the building main elevation introduce “Vertical Planting”: an innovative agricultural technology that applies a computerised drip irrigation system to numerous cultivated modular tiles.
Each tile will be monitored, fixed and eventually replaced on a daily basis according to weather conditions, pests and birds. indeed, drip irrigation allows to spare relevant amount of water by feeding the single plant instaed of wetting the soil.
David Knafo says to ArchiPanic: “The Israeli pavilion presents a planning approach in which architecture is a vehicle to promote sustainability, protection of natural resources and dedication to social prosperity for the future of mankind”.
How can Vertical Planting effect future cities?
David Knafo: “Imagine a future where food can be grown on the facades if each buildin… Vertical Planting technology will allow architecture to be active in producing energy, treating gray water, purifying indoor air, and they will be constructed mostly with recycled materials. Sustainable urban life will encourage people to produce their own food and grow vegetables and herbs within their living spaces. Architecture will then be able to deal with new functionalities and will present a new aesthetics”.
What do you think of Expo flamboyant architecture?
David Knafo “Even if Expo architecture history features flamboyant and merely aesthetic projects. For the Israeli Pavilion we decided to set aside any show-off attitude and we wnated to concentrate more on a strong architecture that could convey truly the contents, concepts and themes of the exhibition. We believe that Expo main issue Feeding the Planet is so strong that architectural egos shouldn’t take over the chance to convey sustainable messages.
ArchiPanic: The Vertical Field of the Israeli pavilion will feature also rice crops. How is it possible to cultivate it without a water horizontal basin?
David Knafo: It has been proved that when in hard conditions, the struggle to survive and to guarantee a future for the specie force rice and most plants too increase seed productivity. The computerised drip irrigation system do not water the soil but the single plant only when needed keeping it always “thirsty enough” to produce more. Today each kg of rice requires over 5.000 litres of water. “Vertical Planting” cut the needed water resources to 1.500 litres and reduce agriculture pollution. Indeed rice crops are one of the most polluting cultivations as they nest a large biomass of bacteria and insects that produce a relevant amount of CO2. On top of that the vertical crops do not need water ponds and allow to spare also space and territory.
ArchiPanic: Why nobody has been thinking about it before?
David Knafo: “Traditional rice crops rarely created any problem. Mankind did not to have to worry or to find new ways to change agricultural techniques. In Israel we had nothing but saline water, unfertile soil, marshes and deserts. To survive we had to create new technologies and to innovate until we managed to make the desert bloom”.
Israel Pavilion features also multimedia installations and the stories of industrious people, cutting-edge technologies and thriving companies that made the desert bloom. Israel pavilion is promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affair of Israel and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund that has benn developing social and enviromental projects across the country. Thanks to KKL-JNF, Israel is today the only one contry that has more trees then 100 years ago.
General Commissioner Elazar Cohen says: “Israel is a young country with a tradition of three thousand years and an approach projected into the future. In less then seventy years, hard work, research and development have been able to transform a mostly arid land into fertile terrain”.
The pavilion was realised by AVS, reknown worldwide creator of advanced multimedia solutions that teamed with David Knafo to set on show the contents and the architecture of the exhibition.
AVS owner Malki Shem Tov says: “How to present Israel agriculture and technologies in a design-oriented country as Italy? Our challenge was overtaken by focusing on the main message of the pavilion and making it clear to the visitors at their first glance. Israel is a small and young country that managed to harvest more than what the land was eager to give”.
“The exhibition features maxi-screens with LEDs and video mapping installations in order to create a magical atmosphere. That’s why we involved some of the best creatives and professionals but also influential Israeli artists lik musician Ivri Lider and actress Moran Atias”.