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Thematic Areas

Future Food District

Cover Future Food District
Future Food District (#FFD) presents possible scenarios for the application of new technologies at each step of the food chain. It is a micro universe in which the visitor is invited to explore different interactions between people and food. The project is managed by Carlo Ratti, Director of the SENSEable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, together with Carlo Ratti Associates design studio. The #FFD is located on the south side of the Expo site where there is also the Open Air Theater and the walkway which connects with Cascina Merlata.
Future Food District according to Carlo Ratti
What story does it tell?
Future Food District is a micro universe that explores new ways for people and food to interact. This interaction is possible thanks to the use of new technologies and by applying the Internet of Things concept. Inside, we reflect on how food is and will be produced, distributed, prepared and consumed in the future. Through a solid information network we will be able to interact more with products and producers in order to develop a greater awareness of what we consume.
Can you give us three reasons to visit?
The first reason to visit this part of the exhibition is actually the space itself where technologies and natural elements co-exist, making the visit here an engaging and surprising experience. Another reason is to try a unique and interactive supermarket experience where everyone can be a producer and consumer at the same time. Finally, the third reason is to experiment with the use of smart technologies in the Kitchen with the help of professional chefs.
What is your vision of the future?
In the Future Food District man is at the center of a food chain that is more autonomous and sustainable thanks to the use of new technologies. As a result, the interaction between consumers and products goes back to being transparent and honest thanks to the sharing of information.

Where does your inspiration come from?
Paradoxically, the inspiration for this project comes from the past, when the place where one exchanged goods was where relationships were formed. The production and distribution chain was clearer and consumers knew more about the food they were eating. Through new technologies we become connected once again to the real world, eliminating barriers between consumers and producers in order to have a more direct relationship with food.
How did you interpret the theme?
The central theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life is interpreted here through the principles of awareness and interaction made possible thanks to the use of new technologies. These allow us to obtain information and directly interact with products and producers by using these technologies. We are given a real network that interacts with all things in the world, allowing us to understand each step of the food chain.
In what way do you communicate with visitors?
The Future Food District pavilions are highly interactive. Inside the supermarket it is possible to enjoy a shopping experience via flat screens, displays and interactive tables. In the kitchen pavilion it is possible to experiment with new ways of preparing food and the main square that connects the two pavilions is an ideal place for interacting and exchanging ideas with others.
The Vertical Plotter of the Supermarket of the Future shows the faces of consumer "types"
The exterior facades of the Supermarket of the Future depict stylized faces of some of its visitors. The Coop supermarket has identified six consumer "types", with each type favoring different kinds of food and shopping habits. Their research has categorized the six groups as: lovers of Italian food, the wellness consumer, the easy consumer, the gourmet-foodie, the vegan-vegetarian and the green & ethic. These types can be representation thanks to a "Vertical Plotter", the largest of its kind in the world that allows robotized “graffiti” to be created in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The device moves along the walls, using five different colors of spray and spray heads and can reproduce the subjects from a photograph. One application takes the main features of the face and converts them to coordinates via the plotter. The Pavilion’s walls serve as giant open source canvases featuring ever-changing, overlapping portraits. Eyes, noses and mouths are aligned one on top of each the other, giving rise to new faces.
The UN's presence in the Future Food District
In the Future Food square District one of the 18 UN installations can be found. In this room, the fourth element of the Zero Hunger Challenge is presented: 100% increase in productivity and income of small-scale farmers. Doubling the income means doubling the chance to increase their productivity and consumption and get out of the subsistence cycle. The UN is present with 18 multimedia installations, easily recognizable by their giant blue spoons. These UN Spaces are located in various areas of the site along the itinerary dedicated to the theme “The Zero Hunger Challenge • United for a sustainable world”.
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View Carlo Ratti's profile

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An architect, engineer and activist, Carlo Ratti is the founder of Carlo Ratti Associates Studio in Turin and is Director of MIT SENSEable City Lab of Boston. A graduate of Turin Polytechnic and l’École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris, he also holds a PhD from Cambridge University in the UK. He has received praise for his work in a number of publications. He regularly writes for Domus magazine and Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper and has also written for the BBC, La Stampa, Scientific American and The New York Times. His work has been shown at the Venice Biennale, the Design Museum in Barcelona, the Science Museum in London, at GAFTA in San Francisco and at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Carlo has been included in Esquire Magazine’s “2008 Best & Brightest” list, in the Thames & Hudson selection of “60 innovators of the last 60 years”, in Blueprint Magazine’s “25 People Who Will Change the World of Design” and in Forbes Magazine’s “People You Need to Know in 2011”. Fast Company nominated him for “50 Most Influential Designers in America”, and he has been included in Wired Magazine’s 2012 “50 People Who Will Change the World” list. The Digital Water Pavilion project was nominated by Time magazine as one of the best inventions of 2008. In 2011 Carlo was selected with his studio for the Renzo Piano Foundation Award as one of the top three young Italian architects. 
Carlo has presented his research at TED 2011 and is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Urban Management. He is also the Program Director of the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow and was Project Manager of the BMW Guggenheim Pavilion 2012 in Berlin. In June 2007 the Italian Culture Minister nominated Carlo Ratti as member of the Italian Design Council – an institution created by the Italian Government that includes 25 key people from the Italian design industry. In 2009 Carlo was nominated as Inaugural Innovator in Residence by Queensland State in Australia. Last by not least, he is the Project Manager of the Future Food District Pavilion for Expo Milano 2015.

Carlo Ratti Associati

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Carlo Ratti Associates is a young firm of architects based in Turin, Boston and London. In Boston the studio is linked to the SENSEable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The studio is currently working on different projects of various scales in different countries.
‘From the Spoon to the City’ as Bauhaus said, the studio focuses on the effects that new technologies have on the landscape and on everyday life in general with particular attention on the aspect of sustainability. Among its most recent projects, is the extension of Cafè Trussardi in Piazza della Scala in Milan, the design of 1,000 emergency homes in Sri-Lanka, The Cloud at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the Digital Water Pavilion for Expo 2008 in Saragoza in Spain. The latter was nominated for Best Invention of the Year by Time Magazine. At the moment the studio is busy working on the Future Food District for Expo Milano 2015 and on experimental furniture for Cassina Spa. The studio is also involved in the realization of a masterplan for the design of new cities in the Gulf, in Russia and in Central America.
Carlo Ratti Associates has received several awards and its work has featured in international media such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Der Spiegel, Discovery Channel, BBC, CNN, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica, Domus and Abitare magazines.
Among the most recent awards, the studio has been nominated by the Renzo Piano Foundation as one of the best emerging architecture firms in Italy, and has also been selected for the project to expand Cavezzo school which is in one of the communities hit by the earthquake of May 2012.

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