The art of harnessing energy

French pavilion, at the Universal Exposition in Milan

The French Pavilion at the universal exposition to be held in Milan in 2015 will be a building made entirely from timber which can be assembled and disassembled, with 3,000 m² of floor space and with ‘measurable’ energy performance (uncertified).

Beterem (TPF-i) was awarded the project management support contract from drawing up the schedule to overseeing the build.

This includes the creation of the Pavilion itself, using a design-build process, the layout of the exhibition, the planning of external spaces and maintenance of the building (including technical operations) during the expo, as well as disassembly.

Selected as part of a call to tender, the Beterem (TPF-i) team incorporates several disciplines. The participants met when assembling the Pavilion M, at Place Bargemon in Marseilles for the ‘European Capital of Culture’ year in 2013. Events management specialists, set designers and technical inspectors learned to work together on the pavilion, also made completely from timber, which directed tourists to the various events organised by the city.

Accustomed to constantly communicating whilst working, the team applied the same formula for the universal exposition in its communications with the client (the curator for France and future director of the Pavilion) throughout the project planning phase. It was necessary to design everything from scratch. Dialogue was crucial, communication and mediation essential.

Aside from the technical challenges of a timber building where no fixings must be visible (the finished result must give the impression that everything is dovetailed), the major challenge of the project is its deadlines: Three months to produce the schedule, one month to launch the design-build competition, two months for entries, one month to announce the winner, three months to prefabricate the workshop, two months to create the foundations and three months for assembly.

Very early on, the Beterem (TPF-i) team called on the services of an Italian technical inspection office to be sure of being in compliance with local regulations (earthquakes, fire safety, planning permission etc.). The Italian technical inspection office immediately became a full member of the team, initiating continuous discussion between the project participants based on the principle of mutual acceptance of ideas and proposals to seek collective solutions.

Beterem (TPF-i) continuously acted as an arbiter between the plans and the finished result, between the exhibition space and the structure.

R_27_luc-delesalle-166Today, a build where everyone works separately is no longer imaginable.  There must be continuous communication and dialogue between the client and contractors. This is what we managed to do, despite very tight deadlines and a build in a foreign country.

MIPI – AMOau – Philippe Mille
La Boîte à Outils
Luc Delesalle
© X-TU/Adeline Rispal


  • Building owner FranceAgriMer
  • Location Milan - Italie
  • Partners MIPI - AMOau - Philippe Mille - La Boîte à Outils
  • Cost of works 14 M€