ARC River Culture Pavilion
By Jakob Harry Hybel
The ARC River Culture Pavilion, designed by New York-based stalwarts of experimental, multi-disciplinary design, Asymptote Architecture, dazzles visitors not just with its curious form but also with an abundance of cutting edge multimedia technologies.
silvery, ovaloid multipurpose pavilion, which rises from a man-made
hill in the semi-rural outskirts of the South-Korean city of Daegu,
was originally designed in connection with the EXPO 2012 in Yeosu.
The pavilion was meant to showcase Korea's commitment to their
highly ambitious Four River Restoration Project - an initiative
devised by former president Lee Young-bak, seeking to preserve the
ecosystems of the rivers Han, Nakdong, Geumho and Yeong San.
Interpreting the Elements of the Landscape
Although resembling a strange, quilted spaceship at first glance, there is more to the building than its outlandish exterior. The main purpose of the pavilion was not to create a self-referential structure, but one that would create a dialogue with the elements of the surrounding environment: the intertwining rivers, the hilly landscape and the wide, open fields.
entering the pavilion, a reinterpretation of the surrounding
landscape can be clearly detected. Throughout the building, which
primarily functions as a state of the art multimedia theater and
exhibition space, the virtual landscape of the interior acts as an
abstract representation of the physical landscape surrounding the
building. All across the sweeping interior walls of the
high-ceilinged main exhibition floor, a 360 degrees digital
projection of animated natural sceneries is shown, and the
spiralling staircase that cuts through the space gives visitors
different vantage points for viewing the projection.
Questioning What's Real
A visit to the pavilion begins at the top level, to which visitors are transported by elevators immediately after they enter. From the wood-covered roof deck - that boasts impressive panoramic views and houses a small restaurant - the main circulation path then descends along a trussed stair that cuts through the rotunda, giving access to the multimedia galleries before finally reaching the ground floor. From there, visitors exit back into the landscape, where they can witness the rivers Nakdong and Guemho collide.
shifts between experiencing the natural environment first-hand and
watching artistic representations of it, are meant to make the
visitors question their perception of the reality of what surrounds
The pillowy façade of the ARC Pavilion is not only one of the most dominant features of its exterior, it is also one of the most refined features of the building as a whole. The ETFE cushions covering the facades are equipped with pneumatic chambers, which control the transmission of heat through the façade - quite literally allowing the building to breathe. In addition, the cushions are backlit and printed with a pattern, which allows for the building to constantly change appearance.
So, in in more than one way, the façade makes the building come alive, which adds to the overall aim of the pavilion: to blur the boundaries between what is natural and what is a man-made approximation. As principal designer Hani Rashid puts it, the ARC Pavilion is:
a canvas that both communicates with and reacts to its occupants in a way that reflects the human condition.
Facts about ARC River Culture Pavilion
Daegu, South Korea
Lise Anne Couture
Hong Min Kim
Structural Engineer: Knippers Helbrig Stuttgard
Last updated: January 06, 2014
North Adams, Massachusetts, USA
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Seattle, Washington, USA