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Design contest opens for UK’s £6m Milan Expo pavilion

United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI) has launched a two-stage competition to design the national pavilion at the Milan Expo in 2015

The £6 million structure is expected to send a ‘powerful message’ about Britain and build on the success of Thomas Heatherwick’s ‘seed cathedral’ pavilion at the Shanghai Expo at less than a quarter of the Lubetkin Prize-winner’s cost.

The winning design will feature alongside more than 140 national installations addressing the 170 hectare festival’s ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ theme. Foster and Partners revealed its plans for the United Arab Emirates’ pavilion last week.

Christine Losecaat, creative director for the UK pavilion, said: ‘We are seeking a team who can come up with a great concept which sends a powerful message about modern Britain to an international audience.

‘There are some incredibly exciting developments taking place in Britain’s agri-tech, life sciences and food and drink sectors: this is a fantastic opportunity to show them off to the world.’

She continued: ‘We also hope the winning design will include a legacy – whether physical, experiential or virtual – which we can use for future events around the globe.’

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office sparked controversy in 2010 after announcing Heatherwick’s £26 million showstopper would not be rebuilt, once dismantled, despite a host of interested buyers.

Competition organiser Malcolm Reading said: ‘This Expo is decidedly focused on doing rather than seeing, on visitors participating in events and interacting with the Pavilion.

‘So on this occasion it’s the exhibition content which should determine the design of the structure – the successful integration of the two elements is going to be the key to a compelling attraction.’

The contest – described as a ‘fascinating opportunity for an exceptional team to come to world attention’ – will follow a restricted procedure set out under EU procurement guidelines.

Multi-disciplinary teams specialising in contemporary design, engineering, events and exhibitions management, sustainability, digital skills, interpretation and education are invited to register.

The deadline for expressions of interest is 19 February and the second stage shortlist will be announced in early March. The competition winner is expected to be announced in May.

For further information visit the competition’s microsite

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