Jacques Ferrier decided to evoke the “city of senses/sensuality”, understood as “getting back in touch with pleasure and the will to live in the city”, for the theme of the Expo in Shanghai, “Better City, Better Life”.
According to the architect, technology has dominated human existence in the last century, but today the challenge is to put man back at the centre of the urban hub using the five senses, to which the Chinese add balance and movement. The pavilion is a large cube above a mirror of water and is inside a steel mesh in turn covered with concrete reinforced by fibreglass in a stone colour like Chambord castle, but also like the works of engineer Eugène Freyssinet, the inventor of pre-stressed concrete. The inside has no partitions and the outer steel mesh helps discharge horizontal forces thanks to metal connecting rods. The core of the display is a 250 metre long down ramp extending around the French garden. A long “video fresco” formed by three dozen screens, as well as several impressionist masterpieces on loan from the d'Orsay museum, illustrate the balance between technology and sensuality, creation and permanence, city and territory.
For this project iGuzzini developed a special product to light the facade. Studio Sexton and architect Ferrier together came up with a very simple concept consisting of placing “candles” in each space in the rectangular mesh covering the pavilion.
The product had to be simple, economical and had to perform two main functions: if seen from the outside the product had to shine like a candle, whilst on the inside it had to light the main structure of the building in such a way as to make the rectangular structure visible in contrast. To do this, the team made up of the architect and lighting designer proposed a simple fluorescent lamp with screw fitting, easy to change, economical, and inserted in a diffusing screen (180° outwards) made of pierced sheet metal. In some cases the pierced metal even covers the product 360° to avoid glare in the zones where the main building has windows or openings.
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