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Asif Khan reveals design for ‘darkest building on earth’

Asif Khan reveals design for ‘darkest building on earth’


British architect Asif Khan has released details of his latest project the Hyundai Pavilion at PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which he is calling the “darkest building on earth”.

Commissioned by car manufacturer Hyundai as part of its ‘global mobility initiative’, the 10 metre-high pavilion is coated with light absorbing Vantablack VBx2 and illuminated by thousands of tiny white light rods, or stars, which give the impression of looking in to space.

Hyundai winter olympics pavilion

Vantablack VBx2 absorbs 99 percent of light, making the structure appear almost as a black void, even in the daylight, meaning visitors will struggle to define its shape and curves until they get closer.

“From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space,” says Khan. “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.”

The interior of the pavilion measures 35 × 35 metres and features a water room installation that disperses 25,000 water droplets per minute, which visitors can interact with through sensors to alter their rhythm. The droplets then collide and pool together in a lake.

Inside the Asif Khan-designed winter olympics pavilion

“The water installation visitors discover inside is brightly lit in white,” says Khan. “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.”


Photography by Luke Hayes


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