News / Architecture

Asif Khan has designed the darkest building on earth for the Winter Olympics, using Vantablack VBx2

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes

The studio of architect Asif Khan has today (7 February) unveiled a new project, the so-called “darkest building on earth”. The pavilion is on display at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 in South Korea, and has been commissioned by car manufacturer Hyundai for their “global mobility initiative”.

The pavilion’s ten-metre-high exterior walls have been painted in Vantablack VBx2, a newer version of the original Vantablack super black – acquired for exclusive use by Anish Kapoor – making the building the largest continuous nanostructure. Vantablack VBx2 can absorb 99% of light that hits it, which has the effect of a visual illusion and makes the Hyundai Pavilion look like a black void. Its outside walls are decorated with thousands of light-up stars which give the impression of looking into space.

Inside the 35 × 35 metre pavilion there is a multi-sensory “water room” installation that disperses 25,000 water droplets per minute, which interact with one another to form a “water landscape” which looks like a city seen from space.

“From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space,” Asif Khan said in a statement. “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.

“The water installation visitors discover inside is brightly lit in white. As your eyes adjust, you feel for a moment that the tiny water drops are at the scale of the stars. A water droplet is a size every visitor is familiar with. 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.”

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes

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Asif Khan, PyeongChang: Luke Hayes