Wolfgang Buttress to design UK
Milan Expo pavilion


Milan Expo 2015: a team led by artist Wolfgang Buttress has reportedly beaten a shortlist of prominent architects to design the UK pavilion for the World Expo 2015 in Milan, with plans for a "pulsating" beehive structure.

According to the Architect's Journal, Nottingham-based sculptor and painter Wolfgang Buttress is poised to win the competition pending a mandatory standstill period, and will be named designer of the pavilion by Prince Harry in Rome next week.

A representative from the UK government's Business, Innovation and Skills department did not deny rumours that the artist-led team, which also features architecture firms BDP and Simmonds Studio, has been chosen ahead of designers Barber & Osgerby and Paul Cocksedge, and architects Amanda Levete and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.

Beehive-inspired pavilion to represent UK at Milan Expo 2015

Other finalists include architect Asif Khan, 2013 World Interior of the Year winner David Kohn and Gardens of the Bay landscape architect Grant Associates.

The concept, entitled BE, comprises a "pulsating virtual hive that will highlights the plight of the honeybee" to offer visitors an "immersive sensory experience" creating a "lasting flavour of the British landscape".

Visitors enter the hive-like structure, which will "pulsate, buzz and glow according to signals from a real hive", through an orchard and wildflower meadow.

The Milan Expo will take place between May and October 2015 with the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" and will showcase designs centred around sustainability, technology and food.

Last week, France unveiled its pavilion design with a latticed wooden structure that will be used to grow food crops. China has also unveiled its plans for a building with a wavy roof and indoor field.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story named Paul Smith as one of the designers on the Buttress led UK pavilion team. Paul Smith was listed on the proposal but has not yet confirmed involvement with the project. 

  • Annie

    We might as well have reused Heatherwick’s Beijing pavilion.

    • na

      Annie, Shanghai it is.

  • Currito

    Is this Thomas Heatherwick’s pavilion Part 2?

  • colonel

    These are images from 2010, right?

  • K

    Heatherwick’s UK Pavilion Mark 2.

  • A

    I like it. Striking, memorable and most importantly – original.

  • mitate

    Same old, same old. Heatherwick or Buttress/Smith, who really cares? How depressing.

  • Scramb


  • Z-dog


  • paraphernal

    Past your Heatherwick fondness, this has an ethereal quality that goes beyond the ‘iconic’ Union Jack pin-stack. Same family maybe, yet different. It’ll have a lingering presence, for sure.

  • Ana

    Interesting how the theme and hence design of this fantastic exhibit is so very similar in basic concept to the amazing fantasy theme/plot of the honeybee-human society awareness eco-book, Accused By Facet-Eyes (C.B. Don). I could not help, but notice the many parallels from the orchid to the hive! Makes one wonder.