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Asif Khan builds ‘super-black’ pavilion at 2018 Winter Olympics

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Work has completed on a ‘super-black’ pavilion designed by Asif Khan at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games park in South Korea

The exterior of the 35x35m structure has been coated in a special matt black material – Vantablack VBx2 – which, it is claimed, can to absorb 99 per cent of the light hitting its surface.

This pavilion’s skin is punctuated by thousands of tiny white lights, creating the illusion of a ’field of stars that appear to float in mid-air’ against a ’startling black void’. 

Backed by the Hyundai Motor company, the pavilion houses a ’multi-sensory hydrophobic water installation’ which emits 25,000 singular water droplets every minute.

East London-based Khan, who previously designed the Coca-Cola pavilion at the 2012 London Olympic Games and the MegaFaces pavilion at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, said: ’From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space. As you approach it, this impression grows to fill your entire field of view.

’So on entering the building, it feels as though you are being absorbed into a cloud of blackness.’

He added: ’The water installation visitors discover inside is brightly lit in white. As your eyes adjust, you feel for a moment that the tiny water drops are at the scale of the stars. A water droplet is a size every visitor is familiar with. In the project I wanted to move from the scale of the cosmos to the scale of water droplets in a few steps. The droplets contain the same hydrogen from the beginning of the universe as the stars.’

Asif khan, pyeongchang 2018 ¬ luke hayes 8

Asif khan, pyeongchang 2018 ¬ luke hayes 8

Khan has been working with the manufacturers of Vantablack since 2013 and proposed its use in his shortlisted proposal for the UK Pavilion at Milan Expo 2015 (see AJ 05.03.14) .

The pavilion was commissioned by Hyundai Motor as part of a series of projects linked to its pioneering work onr the world’s first Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle. According to the car company, the black façade of the Khan-designed pavilion ’represents the universe, the origin of hydrogen, and the interactive water droplets inside the building are inspired by individual hydrogen molecules.’

The building will officially open on Friday (9 February 2018) to coincide with the PyeongChang 2018 opening ceremony.

Drawing asif khan, pyeongchang 2018

Drawing asif khan, pyeongchang 2018

Project data

Client Hyundai Motor Company
Design Asif Khan
Main contractor Hyundai Engineering
Interactive engineer iart
Façade coating Surrey NanoSystems
Corian fabrication Cutting Edge
Structural engineer AKT II
Environmental engineer Atelier Ten
Environmental sound Why Do Birds?
Interior contractor GL
Local architect USD
Agency Innocean Worldwide

Asif khan, pyeongchang 2018 ¬ luke hayes 6

Asif khan, pyeongchang 2018 ¬ luke hayes 6

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Cool idea but won't such a materials unique attribute be quickly defeated by dust and dirt?

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