Today the world produces more food than it consumes, and yet 800 million people go hungry. Figures of this nature, and of course the fact that gastronomy is one of the strongholds of the culture and economy of Italy, explain the ‘Feeding the Planet’ theme of the Universal Exposition that opened in Milan on 1 May and can be visited until 31 October 2015. Interest in the matter, however, has not been enough to prevent the Expo from being marred by controversy from the very start, thanks first to the corruption rampant in urban planning circles, which has sent some of the individuals involved to the law courts, and later to the violent protests of indignados filling Milanese streets in the days preceding the grand inauguration.
Nevertheless the Expo enclave – an area of 110 hectares situated approximately 16 kilometers from the city center – has since opening day been brimming with people, majority of them foreign visitors bringing approximately 10,000 million euros into the country. Some 55 brand new national pavilions (including Spain’s, designed and built by the Madrid-based office b720 Arquitectos) and 41 thematic ones have been organized in accordance with a scheme which, unlike in other, analogous exhibitions, is governed by plain common sense: the uncomfortable and unsustainable dispersed arrangements usual in events of this kind give way to a layout inspired in the Mediterranean city of density and human scale, with two covered streets serving as axes, in the manner of the cardus and decumanus of Roman military camps.