The quilted cladding lining the underbelly of the ARC is an ETFE pneumatic cushion system. This façade system is lightweight, exerting minimal load on the pavilions steel structure. It also maintains a weathertight enclosure and provides a high-performance building skin with a high insulation value.

The quilted cladding lining the underbelly of the ARC is an ETFE pneumatic cushion system. This façade system is lightweight, exerting minimal load on the pavilion’s steel structure. It also maintains a weathertight enclosure and provides a high-performance building skin with a high insulation value.

Credit: Wan Soon Park


In following with its mission statement, which says "the architecture is the exhibition, the exhibition is the architecture," the River Culture Pavilion (or ARC) is a stunning silver-skinned ovaloid that seems to rise out of the semi-rural South Korean landscape on the outskirts of Daegu, a city of 2.5 million.

"We were inspired to make a statement about the power and beauty of the landscape, the light and water, the mountains, the stones," Asymptote principal Hani Rashid says of this cultural pavilion, commissioned by the local water board in celebration of its $18 billion Four Major Rivers restoration project. "This is a client who is not inherently interested in art but became euphoric about the building because of how it inspires an understanding of the powerful forces of nature," he says.

The unique bowl shape of the ARC provides consistent self-shading to much of the buildings exterior envelope, helping to reduce thermal gain. The form also has the benefit of allowing the bulk of the buildings form to be reflected in the shallow pool on the plinth belowthat pool is echoed in a similar feature on the rooftop deck.

The unique “bowl” shape of the ARC provides consistent self-shading to much of the building’s exterior envelope, helping to reduce thermal gain. The form also has the benefit of allowing the bulk of the building’s form to be reflected in the shallow pool on the plinth below—that pool is echoed in a similar feature on the rooftop deck.

Credit: Wan Soon Park

 

The ETFE-cushioned exterior reflects a hazy image of the adjacent trees and Nakdong and Guemho rivers in its complex four-layer quilts, and mountains and clouds reflect in shallow pools on the rooftop and at the base of the ARC. Inside, the natural gives way to an immersive media experience. Equipped on its main floor with a 360-degree video wall—where abstractions of the exterior landscape are projected from 32 high-resolution projectors—the ARC’s design pushes for a potentially transformative visitor experience. The digitized images of water falling, gushing, and eroding are amplified by sound, light, and information, and they progress around the circle at the same speed as visitors walk. "I've always believed that architecture could have a deeper effect than that of merely occupying a space—like art, like music, we can be moved by a building," Rashid says.

The design of the interior pursues this agenda. Throughout—on mezzanines, the spiraling staircase, and in the high-ceilinged open spaces—the immersive virtual landscape pervades. "We have moved beyond the advent of technology as cold and hard into the idea of technology as a warm communal experience," Rashid says. "We wanted the ARC to reflect that, and to be a place that interacts emotionally with its visitors."

Aerial view showing the ARC in the foreground with the city beyond.

Aerial view showing the ARC in the foreground with the city beyond.

Credit: Wan Soon Park


The exterior ETFE cushions are lit both from within as well as by fixtures around the building perimeter, giving the pavilion a bright, color-changing appearance in the landscape. Above the ETFE, lines in fiber-reinforced plastic-panel roof surfaces glow at night, highlighting the architectures elegant curves and sinuous geometry. The ARC was a test of our abilities, Rashid says. We tested proof of concept, technologies, multi-office components, and could be pure about design because we were not being asked to include a hotel or a shopping mall  we focused entirely on creating a discreet, artistically relevant asymmetrical spherical elliptical ovaloid as a pure architectural expression.

The exterior ETFE cushions are lit both from within as well as by fixtures around the building perimeter, giving the pavilion a bright, color-changing appearance in the landscape. Above the ETFE, lines in fiber-reinforced plastic-panel roof surfaces glow at night, highlighting the architecture’s elegant curves and sinuous geometry. “The ARC was a test of our abilities,” Rashid says. “We tested proof of concept, technologies, multi-office components, and could be pure about design because we were not being asked to include a hotel or a shopping mall – we focused entirely on creating a discreet, artistically relevant asymmetrical spherical elliptical ovaloid as a pure architectural expression.”

Credit: Wan Soon Park

 

The buildings exposed faces use standard, cost-effective insulation techniques, such as rigid or sprayed insulation. But these are aided by pneumatic chambers within the ETFE cushions, which control the transmission of heat through the façade. Multiple chambers within each cushion prevent the transfer of heat through convection cycles that normally reduce the insulation value of standard ETFE cushions. Asymptote designed the cushions with a printed pattern on each ETFE layerblack dots on the surface and gray on the inner twowhich produces a moiré effect across the surface.

The building’s exposed faces use standard, cost-effective insulation techniques, such as rigid or sprayed insulation. But these are aided by pneumatic chambers within the ETFE cushions, which control the transmission of heat through the façade. Multiple chambers within each cushion prevent the transfer of heat through convection cycles that normally reduce the insulation value of standard ETFE cushions. Asymptote designed the cushions with a printed pattern on each ETFE layer—black dots on the surface and gray on the inner two—which produces a moiré effect across the surface.

Credit: Wan Soon Park


<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">After making their way through the immersive multimedia galleries, visitors venture down the final trussed staircase and into brighter exhibition galleries on the first floor.</div>

After making their way through the immersive multimedia galleries, visitors venture down the final trussed staircase and into brighter exhibition galleries on the first floor.

Credit: Wan Soon Park

  

The main exhibition floors sweeping interior walls host large-scale digital projections, and the open stair that cuts through the space gives visitors different vantage points for viewing the animated multimedia events. Images cascade across streamlined exhibition screens, and are paired with matching auditory environments. The themes for the displays have their roots in the Four Rivers Project, where themes of happiness, culture, economy, and ecology istinguish the different sections of the project. One of the questions we asked ourselves in conceptualizing the ARC was How do we offer an architectural entity that meets the expectations of todays technology?  Rashid says. Our solution was to load the structure with absolute technological potential in order to allow it to be a canvas that both communicates with and reacts to its occupants in a way that reflects the human condition.

The main exhibition floor’s sweeping interior walls host large-scale digital projections, and the open stair that cuts through the space gives visitors different vantage points for viewing the animated multimedia events. Images cascade across streamlined exhibition screens, and are paired with matching auditory environments. The themes for the displays have their roots in the Four Rivers Project, where themes of “happiness,” “culture,” “economy,” and “ecology” distinguish the different sections of the project. “One of the questions we asked ourselves in conceptualizing the ARC was ‘How do we offer an architectural entity that meets the expectations of today’s technology?’ ” Rashid says. “Our solution was to load the structure with absolute technological potential in order to allow it to be a canvas that both communicates with and reacts to its occupants in a way that reflects the human condition.”

Credit: Wan Soon Park

 

The visitors experience of the ARC begins at the entry, where reception and ticketing are located. From there, the visitor takes an elevator to the top level, to visit the Pavilion Restaurant and roof deck, with its panoramic views. The main circulation path then descends along a trussed stair that cuts through the multistory rotunda, giving access to the multimedia galleries, and then to the ground floor. Visitors can wander through the large exhibition hall, browse in the bookstore, and finally exit into the landscape to view the merging of the Nakdong and Guemho rivers. Throughout the interior, lighting is provided by skylights, strip lighting along the edges of the floor plate and along the spiraling circulation stair, and light from the projectors reflected off the projection screens. In combination, these sources of illumination create an ambient atmosphere with medium-to-low-level lighting optimized for viewing the projections. Brighter task lighting for viewing nonprojected, physical exhibitions on the ground floor also filters into the rotunda.

The visitor’s experience of the ARC begins at the entry, where reception and ticketing are located. From there, the visitor takes an elevator to the top level, to visit the Pavilion Restaurant and roof deck, with its panoramic views. The main circulation path then descends along a trussed stair that cuts through the multistory rotunda, giving access to the multimedia galleries, and then to the ground floor. Visitors can wander through the large exhibition hall, browse in the bookstore, and finally exit into the landscape to view the merging of the Nakdong and Guemho rivers. Throughout the interior, lighting is provided by skylights, strip lighting along the edges of the floor plate and along the spiraling circulation stair, and light from the projectors reflected off the projection screens. In combination, these sources of illumination create an ambient atmosphere with medium-to-low-level lighting optimized for viewing the projections. Brighter task lighting for viewing nonprojected, physical exhibitions on the ground floor also filters into the rotunda.

Credit: Wan Soon Park

 

<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Panoramic views from the wood-lined roof deck of the ARC are actually one of the first things that visitors see: After entering the pavilion, they are whisked to this top level to experience the natural environment first-hand before venturing down into the multimedia galleries to experience the artistic interpretations of the surrounding landscapes.</div>

Panoramic views from the wood-lined roof deck of the ARC are actually one of the first things that visitors see: After entering the pavilion, they are whisked to this top level to experience the natural environment first-hand before venturing down into the multimedia galleries to experience the artistic interpretations of the surrounding landscapes.

Credit: Courtesy Asymptote Architecture


Drawings

Credit: Courtesy Asymptote Architecture


  • Credit: Courtesy Asymptote Architecture


<div xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Exploded Axonometric.</div>

Exploded Axonometric.

Credit: Courtesy Asymptote Architecture


Project Credits
Project  River Culture Pavilion (ARC), Daegu, South Korea
Client  Korea Water Resources Corporation (K-water)
Architect  Asymptote Architecture, New York—Hani Rashid, Lise Anne Couture (design principals); Josh Dannenberg, John Guida (project directors); Brian Deluna, Duho Choi, Allison Austin, Rebecca Caillouet, Gabriel Huerta, Assoc. AIA, John Hsu, Susan Kim, Ryan Macyauski, Yun Shi, Penghan Wu, Hong Min Kim (design team)
StructuralEngineer  Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering
LocalArchitect  EGA Seoul
Size  3,200 square meters (34,445 square feet)
Cost  Withheld