MILAN -- Surrounded by green of La Spezia park, among the buildings of the Moncucco district and the Famagostra crossroads sits a new open-air temple of Italian basketball. A 40-ft. wooden structure shelters a full-size court, protecting it from the elements in the former structure of the Coca-Cola pavilion at the 2015 Expo Milano.

The space was reimagined in a park in Milan's southern suburbs to honor the International Exhibition's sustainabilty principles and leave a lasting legacy to the host city.

"We tried to go beyond sustainability, designing a structure that wasn’t only recyclable but reusable," said Giampiero Peia, the architect who designed the project. "It cost about 20 percent more than a single-use pavilion, but this project guaranteed maximum efficiency and good service to the community itself."

Milan Expo

The structure, opened by Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Sports Councillor Roberta Guaineri, resembles a modern airplane hangar and would not look out of place among contemporary art fair pavilions. Transparent appear to float in the air, hanging on wooden beams that intersect with the short sides of the structure. The sun filters through the thin wooden pillars, flooding the playing area with natural light. The floor is made with a new compound designed for outdoor fields to prevent slipping, and LED lighting on the roof and around the perimeter ensures that the court can be used at night.

Milan Expo


"This is something very unique in the Milan scene, it seems we are in New York," says Paul Tonizzo, 36. He works nearby and often comes over to shoot hoops on his way home. 

Andrew Usardi, 18, added, "Our displays are wonderful. And the cover allows you to have fun at night or when it rains. To think that before there was only a concrete field crumbled with derelict baskets."

Milan Expo

Coca-Cola planned all along to support the regeneration of an area in Milan following the Expo. Palazzo Marino was selected as the best location for the reimagined pavilion. Works began last April, and the structure was trasported in five containers. 

"I've always played basketball, and when I saw the land allocated to Coca-Cola in Expo, I immediately realized that they were the perfect size to recreate a basketball court," Peia recalled. 

The multi-functional playground was designed also to host a range of community events, from concerts and theatrical productions, to family activities.