One Ocean

by | 08. Aug 2012

Cultural | Feature | Sustainable

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

The Thematic Pavilion is situated along a new promenade in a former industrial harbor that will be transformed into an “urban beach” offering leisure activities to the public after the Expo and the aspired improvement of water quality.

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. The Expo’s agenda, the responsible use of natural resources, is not visually represented, but embedded into the building through the sustainable climate design or the biomimetic approach of the kinetic facade.

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

We experience the Ocean mainly in two ways, as an endless surface and in an immersed perspective as depth. This plain/profound duality of the Ocean motivates the building’s spatial and organizational concept. Continuous surfaces twist from vertical to horizontal orientation and define all significant interior spaces.


Continuous transitions between contrasting experiences also form the outer appearance of the Pavilion. As a counterpart to the virtual multi-media shows of the thematic exhibition taking place in its interior spaces, the kinetic facade, like the building as a whole, emphasizes the manifold potentials of analogue architectural effects.

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

The architectural effect is a smoothly moving facade that is seamlessly integrated into the overall continuous skin of the pavilion. The facade consists of 108 kinetic lamellas that are supported at the top and the bottom edge.

Towards the sea the conglomeration of solid vertical cones define a new meandering coast line, a soft edge that is in constant negotiation between water and land.

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

The main entrance is situated on Ocean Plaza, which is partly covered by the pavilion to achieve a shaded outdoor waiting area.

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

The space boundaries of the open foyer are defined by the twisting surfaces of the cones. The interstitial spaces between them frame the view onto the Ocean and create niches for the visitors to take a pause from the exhibition. Stairs or lifts lead to the roof-landscape, the third exhibition area, with a 360-degree view over the Expo site.

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

Photo courtesy Soma architecture

Beside their function to control light conditions the moving lamellas create animated patterns on the facade. The choreography will span from subtle local movements to overall waves effecting the whole length of the building. The architectural intention was to produce a choreography and imagery out of the building’s own layers, without displaying any further media “content.”

During daytime the kinetic lamellas are used to control solar input. They will be operated by energy gained through solar panels on the roof. The building’s performance was analyzed in detailed simulations to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.

Image courtesy Soma architectureAerial View
Image courtesy Soma architectureModelthematic_pavilion_13.jpg
Image courtesy Soma architectureModel

Drawing courtesy Soma architecturePlan Level One

Drawing courtesy Soma architecturePlan level Two

Drawing courtesy Soma architectureSections
Drawing courtesy Soma architectureConcept Diagram


COUNTRYSouth Korea