London-based Asif Khan has unveiled the world's first super-black building in Pyeongchang, South Korea—the Hyundai Pavilion—commissioned by the Hyundai Motor Co. for the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics. According to a release, the pavilion will officially open at the Olympics' opening ceremony on Friday.
The 13,000-square-foot pavilion features 33-foot-tall façades that are coated entirely with Vantablack VBx 2, a derivative of a super-black, man-made chemical substance called Vantablack. The black façades are outfitted with thousands of small white lights to make it look like a star-filled night sky. “From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space,” said Khan in a release. “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.”
Vantablack is made of carbon nanotube arrays that allow any surface coated with this material to absorb nearly 99 percent of light. According to Surrey NanoSystems, a British industrial equipment supplier and the owner of the chemical substance, "Vantablack VBx 2 was created for large scale spray application in areas such as architecture, ceiling blackouts, controlled lighting environments, and other places where designers wish to create unique visual spaces, or control reflected light in ways that have previously been impossible on a large scale."
Inside, the building features an all-white interior. In the middle of the room, an interactive water installation equipped with haptic sensors creates 25,000 water droplets per minute. “As your eyes adjust, you feel for a moment that the tiny water drops are at the scale of the stars," explains Khan in the same release. Visitors' interaction with the sensors changes the rhythm droplets move across the water channels. "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.”