ARC River Culture Pavilion

by | 25. Nov 2013

Cultural | Educational | Feature

ARC River Culture Pavilion. Image courtesy Asymptote Architecture

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.

The 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.

Upon 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.


ARC River Culture Pavilion. Image courtesy Asymptote Architecture


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.

These 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 them.


ARC River Culture Pavilion. Image courtesy Asymptote Architecture


ARC River Culture Pavilion. Image courtesy Asymptote Architecture


Technological Sophistication

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.

Longitudinal section. Drawing courtesy Asymptote Architecture


Exploded axonometric. Drawing courtesy Asymptote Architecture


Sketch courtesy Asymptote Architecture


CITY Daegu
COUNTRY South Korea