11.05.2012 Florian Maier

One Ocean – Thematic pavilion for EXPO 2012

The Thematic Pavilion is one of the main buildings at the EXPO in Yeosu, South Korea. The design by Soma is intended to create a lasting landmark which harmonises with its urban and natural context.
Design concept
We experience the ocean in two ways, as an endless surface and – from a submerged perspective – as depth. The experience of the sea as an endless surface and as depth was the conceptual basis for the design of the exhibition modules. Continuous surfaces warp from vertical cylinders into horizontal planes, generating two different exhibition areas: the multimedia exhibition in the vertical spaces allows visitors to “immerse themselves”, so to speak, in the theme of the EXPO. In contrast, the “Best Practice Area” on the horizontal levels of the upper floor functions as a flexible exhibition space for innovations from the fields of research and technology.
Continuous transitions between opposites also characterise the external appearance of the Thematic Pavilion. If one views the Pavilion from the sea, the dense arrangement of the exhibition modules creates a new meandering coastline. Viewed from the land, the building appears as an accessible artificial landscape with winding paths, roof gardens and viewing platforms. 
The topographic lines of the roof landscape in turn merge into the moveable lamellas of the kinetic media facade, which faces the entrance to the EXPO and the 'Digital Gallery'. The exhibitions within this Pavilion will offer visitors an overview and introduction to the theme of the Expo: 'The Living Ocean and Coast'.
Urban context
The permanent building is being built along a new promenade in a former industrial harbour basin. Following the Expo, the promenade will serve as an urban beach offering leisure activities for tourists and locals.

Space allocation programme and access
The main entrance is situated on the 'Ocean Plaza', which is partially shaded by the overhang of the building, creating a waiting zone for visitors. The foyer is conceived as an open, flowing space facing the promenade, the limits of which are defined by the warped surfaces of the exhibition modules. In contrast, on the side facing the sea the views of the open ocean are framed and dramatised through the vertical surfaces and the triangular openings.
The exhibition modules (cones) were modulated following a spatial sequence. From the smaller cylinders of the Pre-Show with a room height of 6m one passes into the 1000m² space of the Main Show with an impressive room height of 20m. From here, the visitors move on into the more intimate areas of the Post Show and onto the floating platform. Interested visitors can access an open flexible exhibition area and the roof via lifts located in the Best Practice Area on the upper level.
The roof landscape functions as a third exhibition space. Here visitors will find gardens planted with local plant varieties and a 360° view of the surrounding landscape and the Expo site. In order to leave the Pavilion, visitors descend the meandering panoramic ramp leading down to the promenade.

Bionic kinetic facade – analogue effects
The innovative kinetic facade proposed in the competition was developed according to bionic principles in collaboration with engineering consultants Knippers-Helbig of Stuttgart, underlining the innovative and ecological approach of the EXPO. 
In contrast to the virtual, multimedia installations in the themed exhibition, the kinetic facade, like the architecture of the Pavilion as a whole, is intended to create memorable experiences through analogue means. By day, the moveable lamellas of the kinetic facade control the entry of light into the foyer and the Best Practice Area. Individually controlled, opening and closing these in succession allows choreography of wave-like patterns to be created along the entire length of the building.
After sunset, the visual effect of the opening movements is enhanced by LEDs fitted into the inner side of the lamellas. In the opened position, the LEDs illuminate the adjacent lamella. In this way, the bionic principle creates a consistent effect: geometry, material properties, opening angle and light integrate seamlessly into one another; the longer the lamella, the wider the opening angle, the larger the illuminated surface.

The lamellas of the facade are manufactured of glass fibre reinforced polymer and make use of its material properties for the movement process. The kinetic light facade thus combines technical innovation with a surprising, changing presence and communicates the aspirations of the Expo in an emotionally moving way.
Climate concept
The intervening spaces between the exhibition modules are oriented towards the prevailing wind direction in order to allow better natural ventilation of the foyer and the Best Practice Area. In the vertical exhibition spaces, the cooled, air-conditioned air is introduced through the floor in order to reduce the volume of conditioned air. By day, the lamellas of the kinetic facade control the input of solar energy. Solar panels on the roof supply the power for operation of the service engineering installations. The climatic properties of the building were analysed in depth and simulated by Transsolar in order to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.

The design for the permanent Thematic Pavilion emerged as the winning entry of an open international competition in 2009. According to Soma, their concept is aimed at embodying the theme of the EXPO “the living ocean and coast” in a multilayered way which visitors can experience directly.

The idea was not to communicate the intention of the EXPO, to promote the responsible use of natural resources, by means of gestures, but to implement this in architectural form. Soma therefore developed a sustainable climate concept for the Pavilion and the bionic principle of the lamella facade.
Project data
Soma: Kristina Schinegger, Stefan Rutzinger, Martin Oberascher, Günther Weber
Structural engineering: Brandstätter ZT GmbH, Salzburg
Structural engineering, CD Phase: Yeon and Partners
Design: Prof. Dr.-Ing Jan Cremers, Stuttgart
Kinetic facade: Knippers Helbig, Stuttgart
Climate design: Transsolar, Stuttgart, Munich, New York
Light design: Podpod, Vienna
Landscape: Soltos

Client: The Organising Committee for EXPO Yeosu 2012, South-Korea
Construction commenced: 2010
Completed: 2012
Photo gallery of the construction works
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