1. THE THEME PARK
While the themes of the Park are similar to those of the EXPO: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, their contents would be expanded to gain more attractiveness. These contents were worked out to answer the question: “do you know the Planet you live in?”.
As said in the Earth Charter (earthcharter.org), we stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future.
Making everyone know the Planet we live in, whose integrity is threatened by human activities, is a commitment towards new generations.
In order to turn this subject into an interesting and captivating theme, the Park was designed as a visitor’s journey along an ideal path, from the depths of the Earth to the most remote boundaries of the known Universe, passing through the most evocative biomes of the Planet that will be re-created either indoor in greenhouses or outdoor in bioclimatic areas.
The path “From the Center of the Earth to the Universe” will be divided into six steps (from “Sciences of the Earth” to “The Dome of the Universe”) as shown in Img. 1.
The special development of the selected theme and the use of a high level of extravaganza should result in a proposal able to compete on an equal footing with the most significant achievements in the world in terms of parks inspired by similar issues, as listed in the following figure.
1.1 The Theme Park and Technologic Park in the former EXPO area
The Theme Park
The Theme Park, covering 44 ha, would be located in the yellow-colored area in Img. 2.
This especially interesting area contains an important part of the EXPO legacy, to be recovered and renovated in order to be used as a Park.
This legacy includes: Lake Arena and the Tree of Life, the Italian Pavilion, the Biodiversity Park and the Mediterranean Hill and will be completed with new attractions such as: the Biosphere, Renatured Area, Aquatic Center, Theme Resort, etc.
The Technologic Park
The Technologic Park will be dedicated to 3D Printing and Automated Precision Farming (Vertical Farm) – see Chapter 2 – and it will cover an area of 3 ha. Its location within the former EXPO is still to be identified. A portion of the Park might be located in a wing of Cascina Triulza, if made available for this purpose.
1.2 Sciences of the Earth
The visitor tour starts from the Center of the Earth and it goes to the most remote boundaries of the known Universe.
In detail, the tour is designed as an interactive exhibition, guiding visitors to the discovery of our Planet. This first step is articulated into four sectors:
– 1st sector: devoted to the Earth’s structure and volcanism;
– 2nd sector: devoted to biodiversity, to make visitors become familiar with representative ecosystems of the Earth’s biodiversity and subject to increasing threats;
– 3rd sector: devoted to sustainable development. This theme is not restricted to this sector, but extended to the whole Park, as it would be designed to minimize its environmental impact;
– 4th sector: devoted to nutrition. This theme is gaining more and more importance in our society, as is shown by the emphasis placed on food hygiene and safety, gastronomic fashions and obesity. The complex relationship between man and nutrition would be articulated into: food production/processing/preservation/preparation/consumption.
1.3 The Biosphere
The tour “From the Center or the Earth to the Universe” will include several environments representing different forms of terrestrial biosphere.
The basic idea for the Biosphere is to reproduce the characteristic biomes of humid tropical climates and dry and arid climates.
Img. 3 displays the solutions adopted for the Biosphere, i.e. two greenhouses: Greenhouse A of 10,000 m2 reproducing humid tropical climate and Greenhouse B of 5,000 m2 recreating dry climate and arid climate.
These simply shaped structures will be designed as cylinder portions, cut along a parallel plane to the plane passing through the cylinder axis. The roof will be made of inflated ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) cushions filled with low-pressure air.
An absolute innovation will be the use of sliding shields, whose purpose is to shade the greenhouses while generating electric power from an active surface of photovoltaic panels measuring 2,200 m2.
Img. 4 displays an example of greenhouse interior, with typical rain forest vegetation.
1.4 The Renatured Area and Mainland Territory
1.4.1 The Renatured Area
The Renatured Area will be located inside the yellow-colored area in Img. 2. The idea is to re-create the vegetation landscape of the Po Valley before it was urbanized.
This landscape can still be found in the mainland area to the north-west of Milan, in the Alto Milanese area, in the Parco Agricolo Sud Milano and in Brianza, also thanks to the presence of parks and natural zones.
Besides, this land is rich in architectural works (Table I).
The purpose of the Renatured Area is to kindle in all visitors to the Theme Park the desire to discover this territory.
Discovery will be facilitated by interactive tools such as the “Geoblog” or Meta-visual Relief Map, a video-projection technique able to animate the static surface of a physical model, i.e. a relief map of the territory.
The discovery tour will be made by bicycle (including electric bike sharing) through a network of biking paths, some of which are already existing and some under completion.
1.4.2 The Mainland Territory
Biking to the discovery of the Mainland Territory pursues one of the Park’s objectives, that is – despite its complexity – to be aimed at reducing its environmental impact next to zero.
The network of biking paths was identified after an analysis of various types of tracks (Img. 5). It develops along two main lines: the Canale Villoresi and Naviglio Grande, and it crosses the Mainland Territory and obviously the city of Milan.
The biking network was split into 12 paths, whose length is reported in Table II.
1.5 The Biodiversity Park
The Biodiversity Park was opened for the 2015 Expo and has since undergone a slow decaying process due to lack of maintenance. For this reason, its needs a proper regeneration.
This thematic area of 8,500 m2 (Img. 6) is devoted to the valorization of the “Italian farming and agro-food excellence through a route evoking the evolution and protection of our agricultural biodiversity”.
1.6 The Mediterranean Hill
The Mediterranean Hill is a picturesque spot, providing a wide panoramic view of all the former EXPO area.
Located on the south end of the Decumanus road, it hosts an olive grove and a typical Mediterranean wood with cork trees, holm oaks, cypresses and downy oaks.
A row of stairs and ramps lead to its 12 m top (Img. 7).
1.7 The Dome of the Universe
In their tour from the Center of the Earth, visitors are guided to explore the Earth from satellites and orbiting stations and finally from the space.
Equally to the path from the Center of the Earth, this route is equipped with multimedia such as exhibits, panels/screens/interactive terminals, etc. The route is articulated in two sectors:
– 1st SECTOR: devoted to satellite earth observation, where visitors are explained the most recent acquisitions by ESA and FAO with a special emphasis on applications in the sector of food and sustainable development: from the monitoring of crop growing processes to the observation of oceans and the atmosphere, the management of water resources and the management of risks (floods, storms, fires, droughts, etc.).
These topics are similar to those focused by the EXPO.
– 2nd SECTOR: devoted to the exploration of the space, whose knowledge is set to become more and more spread, thanks to the astronomic information acquired by scientists with the help of an impressive number of technologic tools.
The tour ends in a next-generation Planetarium where space themes will be made spectacular.
Some information is provided in Table III: sizes, capacity and architectural structure, while technical specifications are given in the paper “Dopo EXPO 2015: prima parte”.
1.8 The Shopping Center and Food Court
Nutrition will play a key role in the Theme Park.
This topic will be developed through the exhibition route “From the Center of the Earth to the Universe” in the Shopping Center and Food Court, in the Biosphere, in the Biodiversity Park and in the greenhouse, a part of the Technologic Park, which will be open to the public and focused on automated precision farming (see Chapter 2).
The Shopping Center and Food Court displayed in Fig. 1 will sell high-quality local (0 km) foods and wines as well as regional and national products being the best expression of the Made-in-Italy brand. In addition, visitors will be allowed to test omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan diets and compare them in terms of correct nutrition, or to realize the importance of the defense of biodiversity.
Providing directions and information on correct nutrition to the young and not-so-young (especially to the latter, in order to contrast ageing diseases with appropriate diets) will be a task of the Human Technopole, the Italian Government’s initiative involving the Italian Technology Institute (Iit). Please refer to Chapter 5 for more information.
Park visitors will be given the chance of visiting the cultivation, breeding and transformation areas of 0-km farm products (i.e. holiday farms, farmhouses, environmentally-friendly high-productivity greenhouses, etc.). All these locations can be reached through the biking paths mentioned in the section on the exploration of natural parks and villas (par. 1.4).
The Shopping Center and Food Court would also be charged with a centralized catering service supplying the Human Technopole, the University Campus, the City of Innovation and Science, etc. (Chapter 5), giving any food surplus to the social services for the poor and the needy scattered in the region and city of Milan (such as Refettorio Ambrosiano).
1.9 The Aquatic Center
The aim of this proposal is to create a structure in Milan inspired by the ancient concept of a Spa as a place to gather and socialize, rest and keep fit: a structure devoted to sports (swimming in an Olympic pool, diving, climbing, bowling, beach volley, five-a-side football), wellness (saltwater pool, 38°C pool to swim outside also in wintertime, wide wellness and relaxing spaces, massage area, beauty area, saunas, treatments, etc.) and a large fitness area.
The Center is designed to contain up to 2000 users at a time of all categories: Park visitors, mainland and town inhabitants, sportspeople, students, teachers, researchers and the staff of the Human Technopole, University Campus, City of Innovation and Science, etc. (Chapter 5).
Img. 8 and Img. 9 provide samples of interiors and exteriors.
1.10 The Theme Resort
The four-star Theme Resort is composed of a single building of approx. 30 m above ground, evoking the Theme Park’s logo (Img. 10). Its shape is a triangular right prism with three cylindrical towers on the vertices, linked by slightly curved sections.
Composed of 224 standard rooms and 33 suites, it encompasses a large full-height triangular courtyard topped by a transparent glass and steel roof.
The center of the courtyard contains a full-height light cylindrical structure covered by a green wall, which is enjoyable from a lift/carrousel. The ring-shaped lift rotates slowly as it moves upward, providing multiple changing viewpoints to the many types of plants.
The basis of the central cylinder hosts a large aquarium, equally characterized by a triangular right prism shape with rounded corners (Img. 11).
Img. 10 – From Park logo to Theme Resort
1.11 Visitors, turnover, staff
Visitors are divided into three groups:
– Visitors of the Park’s exhibition route: 650,000 + 450,000 = 1,100,000
– Visitors to the Aquatic Center and Theme Resort: 765,000
– Visitors to the Shopping Center and Food Court: added to the first two groups, their estimated number reaches about 2-2.5 million visitors/year.
Total turnover is estimated at about € 70 million/year. It was calculated with reference to edutainment parks with similar contents and number of visitors and offering thematic merchandising, various catering points and supply chains (e.g. Eataly).
Expected staff amount to 710. They will belong to three main professional categories: managers (responsible for operational areas), executives (interfacing managers and operational staff) and others (support, contact, etc. people).