MILAN — The recently renovated main square at the city’s Central Station, Piazza Duca d’Aosta, hosts a pop-up City Pavilion dedicated to bridging sister cities Shanghai and Milan and to celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations between Italy and China.
The Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony launched the “Shanghai. Let’s Meet!” campaign organized by the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality, the Shanghai Jing’an District Government and the Mayor’s Office of the City of Milan.
“Shanghai’s always been a Euro-Asian melting pot,” said one of the pavilion’s designers, architect Tiziano Vudafieri of Vudafieri Saverino Partners, its form inspired by heron wings. The Showroom/Living area houses Hong Kong artists ‘s “S” chair, an Asian restyling of a 17th-century European chair, and a photography exhibition. A Food/Open Tasting area offers coffee and cocktails by Sant Ambroeus. As a satellite hub to China’s Expo Milano 2015 exhibition spaces, it closes on Oct. 31.
At the reception, Italian and Chinese government officials highlighted similarities between the two cultures, which included Shanghai as the last World Exposition host in 2010.
Wu Hongbo, the undersecretary-general of the United Nations, believes that the key is urban renewal and sustainable development. “Shanghai shows how it’s possible to create a balance between environmental protection and a rapid economic growth,” he said, indicating that by 2050, almost 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas and 95 percent of urban expansion will take place in the developing world — namely Africa and Asia. Worldwide, cities generate around 80 percent of the world gross domestic product.
In Shanghai, urban renewal has been seeded in consumer-oriented, luxury neighborhoods such as its central Jing’an district of high-end boutiques, restaurants and hotels. “We don’t consider ourselves competitors, but we’re trying to catch up and become a fashion capital,” said Lu Xiaodong, mayor of the Jing’an District regarding Milan’s fashion and design strengths. Shanghai is also reinvigorating the Bund, a one-mile stretch along the Huangpu River crowned by the Bund Finance Center’s arts, culture and luxury landmarks.
In Milan, luxury neighborhoods such as Milan Zone One — which includes the Duomo, the Brera neighborhood, the Sempione Park and the Montenapoleone luxury district — seek ways to preserve rich Italian cultural heritage while simultaneously modernizing infrastructures. “With its new and old aspects, it’s important for the city to renew itself in its own time,” said Fabio Arrigoni, president of Zone One, Milano.