mass studies: korean pavilion at shanghai expo 2010
apr 15, 2009
mass studies: korean pavilion at shanghai expo 2010

korean pavillion by mass studies
all images courtesy mass studies




mass studies have designed the korean pavillion for the world expo 2010 in shanghai, china.

the korean pavilion is situated in zone a, directly neighboring the japan pavilion and the
saudi arabia pavilion, and in close proximity to the china pavilion. the site is around 6000m2,
and it is one of the largest lots within the expo compound. located on the perimeter of the zone,
the site takes advantage of the views out towards the huangpu river and the shanghai skyline in
the distance.




with land culture (china) and sea culture (japan) surrounding the
peninsula, korea has been
permeable to imported cultures and global
influences, whose progressive mix defines
contemporary korean society.
using ‘convergence’ as the main theme, the korean pavilion is
amalgamation of ‘sign’ (symbol) and ‘space’: signs become spaces, and
spaces become signs.




sign as space
han-geul, the korean alphabet, is the prime element of ‘signs’ within
the pavilion. the overall
volume, lifted 7.2m above ground level, is
created by converging these han-geul letters,
allowing signs to create
the exhibition space, and so that the visitors can experience their

geometry through horizontal, vertical and diagonal movements. the
primary geometries that
compose the han-geul letters are universal to
other cultures, thus acting as a sort of ‘open’
set of signs that is
engaging to everyone.

the exterior surfaces of the korean pavilion are clad in 2 types of
pixels: han-geul pixels
and art pixels. han-geul pixels are white
panels with a relief of letters in four different sizes
combination forms the majority of the exterior, mainly the peripheral
surfaces. most
of the non-peripheral surfaces are composed of art
pixels, which are 45cm x 45cm aluminum
panels created by a korean
artist, ik-joong kang, who is renowned for creating massive art
out of small hand-painted tiles, either self-produced or by gathering
from around
the world (thus being another type of convergence). about
40,000 of these panels will texture
the façade, contributing a bright
palette of colors, hope, and unity throughout the korean pavilion.
the surfaces will project different atmospheres during the day and
night, with light and shadows
creating different textures. sequential
lighting is installed behind the hangeul pixels to highlight
individual letters on the exterior façade at night, further animating
the pavilion as a sign
(like a text message) on a larger scale.




space as sign
by understanding a map to be a type of a sign that depicts space, they
translated the ground
level piloti space as a sign, by making an
abstract 1/300 scale 3d map of a characteristic
korean city as its
surface. the rest of the building, containing the exhibition space, is
7m above to create a 40m x 77m free, open space generated by
the map. the map becomes
a semi-exterior landscape that expresses the
converging of mountains, water, and a dense
metropolitan area, as
exemplified by seoul, the national capital. this ground floor is shaded

by the main volume and additionally cooled by the a replica of a river
(modeled after the han river)
flowing from one corner to the other as a
5m wide, 79m long artificial stream, while the notable
mountains become
stages/seating/spaces for the visitors to enjoy shows while queued in
to enter the exhibition space above, to improve the typical
inverted condition that most visitors
spend more time waiting than
experiencing the exhibition itself. there is also a series of lfd
a large lfd screen and two water screen projections to assist
the interaction with the visitors.




upon entering the second level of the pavilion, the floor opens up to a
gigantic 3,700m2
exhibition space, that is enclosed in complete
darkness, to provide a controlled environment
for the exhibition. they have
taken advantage of the space by opening it up as an open flat plane,
be able to handle an extremely heavy load of visitor traffic. the level
above contains
the vip lounge, press room, conference room, and
programs for the staff and administration.
on the opposite end of the exhibition space (at the north-western side
of the building) is
a restaurant with its own self-operating
circulation, and an access to a roof garden that
overlooks the huangpu
river and shanghai’s skyline.




general info
project: shanghai expo 2010: korea pavilion
design period: 2008.7 – 2009.4
construction period: 2009.5 –
type: competition
location: shanghai, china
site area: 6000 ß≥
site coverage area: 4320 ß≥
total floor area: 5780 ß≥
building-to-land ratio: 72%
floor area ratio: 96%
building scope: 3f
structure: sc
finish: laser-cut steel panels, aluminum panels, epdm blocks

mass studies
minsuk cho, kisu park, joungwon lee, taehoon hwang, hyunsuk jung,
joonhee lee, hyunjung kim, bumhyun chun, jisoo kim, moonhee han,
sungpil won, dongwon yoon, kyungmin kwon, betty bora kim, khehnyoung
kwak, jungwook lee

interior (exhibition): cheil worldwide
multimedia: sigongtech
structural engineer: ove arup & partners
mep engineer: nikko
facade consultant: axis facades
photography (model): kyehnyong kwak
client: korea trade-investment promotion agency

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