Jam Jar at Milano Expo 2015
Written by Amelia Collingwood, published 22 May 2016
Back in 2014, Jam Jar were approached to design a kitchen by acclaimed architects BDP, who had been selected to build the UK pavilion at Milan’s international architectural Expo. The theme chosen for the Expo was Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. BDP chose to highlight the decline of the world’s bee population and the importance of pollination to the production of food. With artist Wolfgang Buttress, they designed a fruit orchard, wildflower meadow and The Hive – a golden orb made of fine steel lattice, based on the design of a honeycomb.
Last autumn, Jam Jar visited Milan to see the UK pavilion in action. Among the hustle and bustle of the expo, which sees over 18,000 visitors each day, the UK pavilion was tranquil and green. Walking towards The Hive, the wildflowers reminded us very much of a walk in the rainy English countryside – thanks to the weather, supplied by Milan.
BDP used much of the available space to build their wildflower meadow and fruit orchard, keeping interior space to a minimum. The pavilions serve hot food and drinks to the public throughout the day, each inspired by their own national cuisine. For Jam Jar, this meant designing a heavy use, high capacity kitchen in the tightest possible space.
Our challenge was to take traditional catering equipment and fit this into a non-traditional space. The interior ground floor of The Hive was shaped hexagonally, as a nod to the construction within beehives. In addition, deliveries were limited to the site for security reasons. During our design process, we looked at the different uses around the space and designated specific areas for certain activities, helping to formalise the flow of both food and staff. We used flexible storage and coordinated our layout with kitchen hoists which delivered food up the 1st floor terraces and brought back food waste.
We worked closely with the Italian authorities throughout the design stage, ensuring that their own environmental health regulations were adhered to as well as the Expo regulations. This involved delineating food in and food out routes to ensure the staff could easily manage the two processes without fear of contamination.
The variety of food prepared at the pavilion was extremely broad: The kitchen rotated their menu monthly, with catering supplied by Royal Warrant Holders Mosimann’s and recipes curated by Michelin star chefs inspired by British cuisine. As well as preparing food for the general public, the kitchen also provided fine dining for business guests and created canapes for special events.
With a focus on seasonal products from the UK and serving afternoon tea, Mosimann’s brought a taste of the best British ingredients on offer over six months during the summer of 2015. Serving almost 70,000 meals during the Expo, at Jam Jar we are incredibly proud of the UK pavilion’s success, winning numerous awards and attracting over 3.3 million visitors.
Although the Milan Expo is now finished, The Hive is being transported to Kew Gardens where it will set up home from June 2016. We’ll definitely be visiting again!