Gold award for British design and build at 2015 World Expo in Milan

UK Trade and Investment

November 3
10:23 2015

The UKs striking pollinator-inspired Pavilion at Milan Expo, designed and built by British expertise, has been awarded the World Expo organising committees highest design accolade.

The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) gold award for architecture and landscape was presented to UK Commissioner General Hannah Corbett, on the final day of the 5 yearly World Expo, this year held in Milan.

The UK Pavilion was designed by Nottingham artist Wolfgang Buttress and built by Stage One, York-based construction specialists, Manchester-based architects BDP and structural engineer Tristan Simmonds.

It featured a huge aluminium beehive illuminated by nearly 1,000 lights relaying information transmitted from a real beehive. It was inspired by Nottingham Trent University research into the health of the beehive.

During the 6 month run of the World Expo, the UK Pavilion attracted more than 3.3 million visitors. This made it a popular British attraction, second only in visitor numbers to the British Museum over a comparable timeframe.

Other design awards

The UK Pavilion has won a host of other design awards, including Blueprints award for Best Public Use Project with Public Funding and an international jury prize from the Italian National Association of Architects.

It is the second time in a row that the UK has won a gold medal at a World Expo. In 2010, in Shanghai, it was won by the UK Pavilion Seed Cathedral designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Reaction to winning gold award

Accepting the award on behalf of UK Government and its partners, Hannah Corbett, Commissioner General said:

The UK is delighted to receive recognition through this award, for its outstanding creativity and ability to surprise and delight.

The UKs goal at Milan Expo was to generate ambitious business benefits, support UK jobs and growth, highlight UK science and innovation, and promote the UK as a global leader internationally.

We have delivered on that. The business programme delivered as part of UKs participation at Expo has so far generated 531m business benefit for the UK. Through the UK Pavilion, we have offered millions of visitors a taste of why Britain is one of the most exciting cultural destinations in the world.

Tim Leigh, Sales and Marketing Director of Stage One said:

Manufacturing and constructing the UK Pavilion has been a creative engineering triumph. It played to Stage Ones strengths as a company that builds difficult and beautiful things.

For the UK Pavilion at the World Expo to have won the Gold Medal recognises the world-class team that were commissioned to deliver this project.

James Millington, Landscape Architect Associate at BDP said:

BDP are delighted to have been part of a great team who made the UK Pavilion. We have been thrilled to see the public reaction to it, and interest in the story behind it. To win an award for being part of this unique opportunity, is very special.

UK programme at Milan Expo 2015

The World Expo closed its doors on October 31 2015.

The UK participated over 6 months with a:

  • business programme
  • programme of cultural and thought-leadership events
  • wider global campaign called Grown in Britain

Some 21,000 companies have been supported at events globally through this campaign. Over 800 UK companies participated in the GREAT weeks in Milan, showcasing the best of UK food and drink, agri-technology, healthcare, life sciences, creative industries, and science and innovation.

UK at Milan Expo 2015: Highlights

Visitors to UK Pavilion at Milan Expo

Over 6 months the UK hosted many senior leaders at the UK Pavilion including:

  • Prime Minister David Cameron
  • Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
  • Irish President Michael HigginsCreative luminaries such as Sir Paul Smith, Giorgio Armani, Renzo Piano and Lord Foster also visited.

Milan Expo 2015 theme

The theme of Expo was Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.

The UKs participation theme was Grown in Britain & Northern Ireland. The UKs Pavilion was inspired by the role of the pollinator in the ecosystem.

Light and sounds in the central structure, known as the hive, responded to movements in a real beehive in the UK.

The Pavilion was the platform for a 6 month global programme of UK business events and cultural activities, linked to the challenge of feeding the planet.

Notes to editors

The UK Pavilion won in the architecture and landscape category of Pavilions under 2,000sqm.

For content and display, first prize went to Austria.

In the Theme Development category, gold went to the Holy See.

For further information go to:


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