Construction Systems

  • Location: Milan, Italy
  • Architects: Massimiliano Fuksas, Rome
  • Completion: 2005
  • Client: Sviluppo Sistema Fiera S.p.A., Milan, Italy; Nouvo Polo Fieristico S.c.r.l.

2 messe mailandA completely new fairground and exhibition center was built in the north of Milan, consisting of spectacular structures such as the filigree free form structures VELA and LOGO. Free form surfaces, such as accomplished with VELA and LOGO demand the highest standards of technical and logistical performance. It is a feat that arguably could never have been under-taken without MERO-TSK’s unrivalled experience in the application of a unitized construction system to the execution of grid shells.

Along the 30 m wide central axis the futuristic glazed roof, the so-called “VELA”, connects the new exhibition halls over a length of 1,300 m. It was the intention of the architect, Massimiliano Fuksas, to imitate and reflect the panoramic view of the nearby Alps with this sinuous grid shell structure.

With its geometrically free undulating form the VELA roof is adjusted to the surrounding exhibition halls. Its average height is approx. 16 m. In some areas, it towers over the neighbouring buildings, reaching a height of 26 m, in other areas, flowing shapes like volcano craters touch down to ground level.

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The roof was provided with a nonvisible drainage system. Neither gutters nor drainage pipes were installed along the edge of the roof. Rainwater is drained off through a drainage system inside the treecolumns. The geometry of the roof therefore had to be designed to ensure that the inclination of the roof is always directed towards the drainage points under all types of loads.

A separate structure of steel and glass rises up to a height of 37 m over the entrance area of the New Milan Fair. Shaped like a sine wave, this so-called “LOGO” derives its name from its similarity to the emblem of the fair. Like the VELA roof, the LOGO was designed as a free geometrical form. It consists of a sloping crater shape and of a rising volcanic mountain curved in different directions. Unlike the VELA whose laminated glass roof is supported on tree-columns, the LOGO is supported at its perimeter on the surrounding exhibition halls and it is partly cladded with insulating glass and aluminium sheets.

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The design of the free geometrical forms is based on a rhombic grid net with lateral lengths of 1.8 m. In order to realize the sometimes extreme curvatures, additional diagonal elements subdivide the rhombic grid into triangular shapes wherever this is required to ensure the necessary level support of the glass panes. This exceptional roof shape consists of approx. 16,000 nodes and 41,000 members. Specially developed software for structural analysis and fabrication enabled MERO-TSK to accurately automatize the design and execution of these challenging structures.

Once again, MERO-TSK has been able to realize a vanguard landmark project thanks to decades of comprehensive experience in the field and the characteristic unitized method of construction.

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