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The building - Expo Yeosu 2012

The building at the Exhibition Expo Yeosu 2012
© Jung jingho
Architect(s) : SOMA

Design Concept

The Thematic Pavilion was designed to be a permanent building while embodying in many ways the theme of the exhibition, "For Living Coasts and Oceans". We experience the ocean essentially in two ways, as an endless surface and as a deep diving perspective. This flat/deep duality of the ocean motivates the spatial and organisational concept of this building. The continuous surfaces twist from a vertical to a horizontal orientation. The vertical cones urge the visitor to dive into the thematic exhibition. They evolve into horizontal levels that span the foyer and become a flexible stage for the "Best Practice Zone".
The continuous transitions between contrasting experiences also form the exterior of the Pavilion. Towards the sea, the conglomerate of vertical solid cones defines a new sinuous line, a soft edge that is constantly changing between water and land. On the opposite side of the pavilion, an artificial landscape develops out of the land, a roof with gardens and picturesque paths.

Urban context

The building will be erected in a former industrial harbour along a new promenade adjacent to the "Big O". This bridge will connect the pavilion to the Expo. After the Expo, this promenade will be transformed into an "urban beach" offering leisure activities to the public.

Programme and traffic flow

The main entrance is located on Ocean Plaza, which is partially covered by the pavilion to provide a shaded outdoor area. The boundaries of the open foyer are defined by the twisting surfaces of the cones. The interstitial spaces between them frame the ocean view and create niches for visitors to take a break. The area before the show, during the show and after the show is spatially modular: To begin with, spectators enter slowly through the first two small cones with a ceiling height of 8m, then they arrive at the main hall, a huge space of 1000 m2 with a height of 20 metres. After the show, people arrive in the lower, more intimate post-show area that leads to the cafeteria and an open ocean island, where they can relax and watch the movement of the ocean. Visitors can take the escalator to the second floor, where the Best Practice Area awaits. Here institutions will present their research in areas such as renewable energy or marine technologies. From the entrance hall or from the Best Practice Area, visitors can take the stairs or lifts to the roof gardens. The rooftop is the third exhibition space, which invites people to relax and enjoy a 360-degree view of the Expo site. The rooftop gardens will be covered with plant species native to the local coasts. To leave the pavilion, visitors will take a long winding ramp with a panoramic view of the ocean and surrounding islands.
Service functions, such as offices, technical areas and storage areas are located under the landscape part of the building.

After the EXPO period the building will house public and educational facilities.

Bionic Façade - wave effects

As a counterpart to the virtual multimedia shows of the thematic exhibition, the kinetic façade, like the overall architecture of the pavilion, evokes sensual experiences.
In addition to their function of controlling the light intensity and air circulation in the hall and the Best Practice Zone, the movement of the slats creates animated patterns on the façade. The choreography will create subtle wave-like movements along the length of the building.

The movement of the slats is reminiscent of the movement and function of the gills of a poison, but what is most impressive is that the building will appear to be alive and "breathing".

After sunset, the visual effect of the slat movement is accentuated by linear LED bars, which are located on the inside of the front edge of the slat. When the slat is open, these LEDs can illuminate the neighbouring slat depending on the opening angle. The bionic principle of the slats produces a constant effect: geometry, material, movement and light are perfectly linked. As movement, the emotional experience of the kinetic façade combines sensation with the sensational, communicating the theme of the EXPO as an innovative and investigative medium.

Climatic design

The lobby and the Best Practice Area are naturally ventilated. Therefore, the interstitial spaces between the cones were oriented in the direction of the prevailing winds to create air currents. In the large vertical exposures, air will be diffused through the floor to reduce the amount of air conditioning volume. During the day, kinetic louvres are used to control the amount of light. These louvres will be activated by the energy generated by solar panels on the roof. The energy performance of the building has been analysed through detailed simulations to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.


The different appearances of the pavilion - open towards the Expo site and closed towards the sea, were also defined according to the site constraints. Facing the sea, the reinforced concrete cones prevent the pavilion from being damaged by typhoons and high waves. The kinetic roof and façade will have a steel substructure. The kinetic façade will be produced from FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Polyester) and uses the material's characteristics and flexibility for its operation.