SPACE Magazine
SPACE Magazine
Perceiving the Future: Hyundai Pavilion

In celebration of Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the Worldwide Olympic Partners and the Official Partners of PyeongChang 2018 had the opportunity to showcase their brand across Pyeongchang and Gangneung. For international mega events, the pavilions, temporary but creatively flexible showcases are great opportunities for brands or institutions to promote their culture, character, and products. As one passes through the windy entrance of the PyeongChang Olympic Plaza, it is difficult to miss an eye-catching structure with a simple geometric black façade: the Hyundai Pavilion.

It is always interesting how the future is expressed and dealt with in architecture. Architects often bend and twist the forms to evoke an unfamiliar shape, or find unused materials to experiment with. In comparison, the first impression of the Hyundai Pavilion is that it is formed in a modest, long, and horizontal rectangular shape that easily stand out even from a distance. Placed in the center of a vacant lot with no contextual relationship to its surrounding environment, this understated shape does not seem forced, but rather persuasive. This pavilion is designed and constructed by a British architect, Asif Khan in collaboration with Hyundai Motor Company and the exterior resembles the universe. When observed more closely, one will notice 1,946 gleaming LED lights protruding from a concave exterior, lit at varying depths and brightness. The extremely dark exterior is coated with VantaBlack, also known as the blackest black material. This material absorbs over 99% of light and it is first time for the materials to be used on architecture. The matt black finishing on the exterior presents an excellent contrast against the pale white background of the snowy slopes and mountains. With the initial encounter with the Universe, visitors naturally start to wonder what may lie inside.

The first place that visitors encounter is the 227m2 Water Zone. After passing through an achromatic passageway, a gallery of pale white walls, floor, and ceilings already present a stark contrast against the dark exterior. Visitors are first invited to the back side of the room to interact with a waterfall installation: each person puts water at the bottom of the waterfall in a small cup, and pours it into the water channel that is located at the center of the room. The holes through which the wind blows serve as switch, and when the visitors hover their hands over them, the water that was dropped starts to run along the water channels in the shape of a round droplet and goes down the intertwined water channels. An orbital shape is maintained through the use of hydrophobic material that covers the concave surface of Corian marble. Hyundai Motor successfully re-enacts its vision towards future mobility in this piece as thousands of cars, represented through water droplets, glide down the carved channels. The individual droplets gather then into what is called the Lake. If Asif Khans description of the exterior Universe is grandiose and galactic, the water that is inside this room is rather miniscule and humane.

Water is one of the most abundant and familiar compounds to humans. In this exhibition, water, the symbol of life and universe, is used to introduce the hydrogen fuel cycle. Jang Young (Creative Design Team leader, Hyundai Motor) said that this exhibitions main objective is to familiarize the public with hydrogen fuel cell cars. Maybe because I have seen a didactic exhibition that places an abstruse objet inside a frame and makes the audiences nod their heads? This program allows you to touch, smell, pour, hear, and see a familiar compound through a totally new context with the same degree of excitement as if it were a festival seems new and sophisticated.

The following Hydrogen Zone consists of four rooms, each dedicated to introduce the four stages of the hydrogen fuel energy cycle. The first room Solar Panels is a narrow corridor with a high sloping roof with tinted mirrors resembling a solar panel on the side wall. At the second room Electrolysis chrome veneer has been applied to acrylic hemispheres of different sizes. The clean and highly reflective surface of the bubbles results in the most visually stimulating experience. The third room Hydrogen Fuel Stack is a room with thousands of fiber-optic cables which symbolize the battery stack that stores the hydrogen ions. The last room Recreation of Water presents a finale where water drops fall unto the surface of a glass suspended in the ceiling. The ripples created on the thin layer of water above the glass is amplified against both sides of the wall with diagonal lighting. At first glance, it looks completely empty, but it is very captivating.

Players are lined up at the same starting line and wait for the signal. Alone, in the same conditions, they compete for speed and completion. At the Olympics where equality, perseverance, and fairness are a virtue, Hyundai Motor hopes to introduce their focus on equality. Energy source, along with mobility, has become a premium in modern society with uneven distribution. The public often associates cars and fuel with the destruction of nature, instead of preservation and coexistence. Hyundai Motor wishes to become the leader in a revolutionary transition where premium is available to all and mobility can coexist with nature.

While other showcases are crammed with their products in display, the Hyundai Pavilion is a pariah with its minimalist approach. Although there have been many artistic collaborations in the past at the Olympics, this pavilion, with its sounds, color, and curves, stands out and attracts as if it were its own sovereign agent. For this project, which has been planned to deliver a message about Hyundai Motors vision for future mobility, the Hyundai Creative Works and Asif Khan achieved a high degree of perfection coordinating each others opinions while maintaining their individuality. The interventions in space are not excessive, and no specific artist stand out to breach the other partys territory. However, after experiencing all rooms, a strong impression about hydrogen cars or Hyundai Motor has been made. In this exhibition where not a single car or its parts are displayed - the visual, auditory, and sensory interactions have been optimized for an innovative approach to brand character building. A new definition for pavilion has been discovered.

written by Kim Narae | photographed by Kyungsub Shin | materials provided by Hyundai Motor Company

tag.  PyeongChang , Hyundai , Hyundai
no.604 (2018.March) 
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