Hyundai Pavilion at the Olympic Games, Pyeongchang

Glittering LED Facades and Interactive Water Installation

The pavilion was situated at a central site in the Olympic Park in Pyeongchang and attracted a total of 60,000 visitors. The concave exterior walls were finished with Vantablack VBx2, a paint that absorbs 99% of the impinging light. The resulting deep black space in front of the walls was filled with a cloud of thousands of gleaming LED lamps. Inside the pavilion, an extensive water installation encouraged viewers to enter an interaction with its countless moving water droplets. The entire pavilion was designed by architect Asif Khan and stood in the context of Hyundai's advanced research program devoted to mobility through hydrogen.

Glittering Cloud of Lights in Front of a Deep Black Facade

All four sides of the pavilion were fitted with gleaming LEDs. Yet the exact number and density of the lights varied, lending the building an appearance of organic complexity. Since the lamps were intended to gleam like stars in the night sky, iart created a specific "interference effect." This produced a twinking of the points of light much like that caused by refraction in the dark sky. The overall brilliance of the LEDs was primarily determined by two factors. On the one hand, the brightness of each LED depended on its distance from the wall behind it (and thus from the viewer. On the other hand, a sensor measured the ambient light and controlled the brilliance of each LED with a precision of 16 bit (65,535 possible values). The continual adjustment of their brightness to the strength of the ambient light led to continual changes in the pavilion's appearance.

Choreography of Water Droplets

By comparison with the deep black facade, the interior of the pavilion confronted visitors with a complementary atmosphere: A water installation extended over nearly the entire area of a space illuminated by a skylight. The space was 20 meters in length and 12 meters in width. A total of 258 nozzles were built into the circumference of the installation, and constantly emitted small amounts of water onto the surface. Since the entire surface was finished with a hydrophobic coating, instead of merging into a continuous flow the water droplets remained intact, running towards a basin at the lower end of the installation. In addition, the water-resistant coating caused the water to run at an unnaturally fast speed over the surface. At the installation's lower end, the water collected over the course of two-and-one-half minutes until it reached 300 liters in volume, then was pumped out within the space of a few seconds. Then the water cycle began anew.

Subtle Interaction

Visitors moving around the installation had the opportunity to take water from a narrow channel and pour it into a small funnel on the fringe of the installation. As soon as they did this, a large part of the water flow stopped, only the valve directly under the funnel remaining open. A second possible interaction was offered on the long side of the installation. There, sensors were built into the edge that reacted to the physical proximity of viewers. When they moved their hand over a small aperture that emitted a gentle draft of air, the rhythm of the water droplets emerging from the valve beneath it doubled in speed. The uniformity of the moving droplets on the entire grooved surface was counteracted and transformed into a complex, continually changing rhythm.

Exhibition Site

Pyeongchang, South Korea

Project Phases

Planning, Construction, Operation

Project Duration

6 months


February 9, 2018

Exhibition Duration

5 weeks