soma architects' animated Thematic Pavilion realised on the shores of Yeosu, South Korea
The Thematic Pavilion for the EXPO 2012 planned by the Austrian architecture office soma opened in Yeosu on 12 May. soma’s design proposal One Ocean was selected as the first prize winner in an open international competition in 2009.
The main design intent was to embody the Expo’s theme The Living Ocean and Coast and transform it into a multi-layered architectural experience. Therefore the Expo’s agenda, namely the responsible use of natural resources was not visually represented, but actually embedded into the building, i.e. through the sustainable climate design or the biomimetic approach of the kinetic façade. The cutting-edge façade system was developed together with Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering and supports the aim of the world exhibition to introduce forward-looking innovations to the public.
The pavilion inhabits the thematic exhibition that gives visitors an introduction to the EXPO’s agenda. The Best Practice Area on the upper level functions as a flexible stage for organisations and institutions. The permanent building is constructed in a former industrial harbour along a new promenade. After the EXPO the pavilion will stay an attraction for tourists and local residents.
Continuous transitions between contrasting experiences form the outer appearance of the Pavilion. Towards the sea the conglomeration of solid concrete cones define a new meandering coastline, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land. Opposite side the pavilion develops out of the ground into an artificial landscape with plateaus and scenic paths. The topographic lines of the roof turn into lamellas of the kinetic media façade that faces the Expo’s entrance and draws attention to the pavilion after sunset.
As a counterpart to the virtual multimedia shows of the thematic exhibition taking place in its interior spaces, the kinetic façade like the overall building emphasises the manifold potentials of analogue architectural effects. By involving real movement the kinetic facade aims to unify those usually isolated layers of architecture and media and define it as an interrelated and inseparable three-dimensional experience. The elegant opening movement of the lamella is based on elastic deformation properties of fiber reinforced plastics and was deduced from biological moving mechanisms.
The facade covers a total length of about 140m, and is between 3m and 13m high. It consists of 108 kinetic lamellas, which are supported at the top and the bottom edge of the façade. The lamellas are made of glass fiber reinforced polymers (GFRP), which combine high tensile strength with low bending stiffness, allowing for large reversible elastic deformations. The lamellas are moved by actuators on both the upper and lower edge of the GFRP blade, which induce compression forces to create the complex elastic deformation. They reduce the distance between the two bearings and in this way induce a bending which results in a side rotation of the lamella.