Changing design for a changing world

Monday 20 Jan 2014

The 'selfie' makes a giant leap into architecture at the Sochi Winter Olympics

‘A monument for the digital age’ is the concept behind the latest creation by Asif Khan. The MegaFon Olympic Pavilion designed by the British architect for a Russian telecommunications company for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games is inspired by a culture in which the ‘selfie’ rules and ‘emoticons’ are used as a digital communication tool.

The 2,000 sq m pavilion enables visitors to play an active role in the architecture of the Games by having their faces 3D scanned and projected onto the façade of the pavilion. Visitors to the site and to MegaFon stores will be able to scan their faces five times to create a 3D image which is then fed to 11,000 mechanical actuators within the façade.

A fabric membrane will be stretched over these actuators, each of which hosts a light at the tip to precisely calculate the position of every pixel and adapt the colour of the façade in turn. Up to three faces will be featured at any one time with a depth of 2m providing the ability for full 3D arrangements.

Of his futuristic concept, Khan said: “I’m inspired by the way the world is changing around us and how architecture can respond to it. ‘Selfies’ and ‘emoticons’ have become our shorthand for communicating in the digital age; my instinct was to create a piece of architecture for Sochi which could be monumental yet open to that immediacy.”

The client is clearly impressed by the inclusive notion of its upcoming pavilion, as Chief Marketing Officer of MegaFon Anastasia Orkina explains: “The Sochi Olympics motto of our company is: ‘Make your own history’. These Games are our national heritage. And those thousands of faces on this architectural canvas will make a contribution to this legacy by drawing a united portrait of Russian sports fans and supporters.

“Our Olympic Pavilion is not just a remarkable work of architecture, but a very important metaphor of the unity of individuals. It will bring people together.”

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