Chanel Contemporary Art Container by Zaha Hadid


Chanel Contemporary Art Container, a travelling art space designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, has opened in its first destination, Hong Kong.

The pavilion, commissioned by Chanel head designer Karl Lagerfeld, hosts an exhibition of artworks inspired by Chanel bags by 20 artists and called Mobile Art.

The project was unveiled at the Venice art biennale last year - more details and renderings in our story on the Design Museum's Zaha Hadid Blog.

The pavilion is open to the public until 5 April. Ticket details here.

Photographs are by Virgile Simon Bertrand.

The following information is from Zaha Hadid Architects:


The Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel by Zaha Hadid Architects has been inspired by one of Chanel’s signature creations, the quilted bag. Chanel is renowned for its layering of the finest textiles and exquisite detailing to create the most elegant and cohesive pieces for each collection. In her quest for complex, dynamic and fluid spaces the work of Zaha Hadid has developed over the past thirty years through a rigorous integration of natural and human-made systems and experimentation with cutting-edge technologies.

Hadid’s architecture transforms our vision of the future with new spatial concepts and bold, visionary forms.“I think through our architecture, we can give people a glimpse of another world, and enthuse them, make them excited about ideas. Our architecture is intuitive, radical, international and dynamic. We are concerned with constructing buildings that evoke original experiences, a kind of strangeness and newness that is comparable to the experience of going to a new country. The Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel follows these principles of inspiration,” states Zaha Hadid.

Continuing to arouse one’s curiosity is a constant theme in the work of Zaha Hadid. The Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel is the very latest evolution of Hadid’s architectural language that generates a sculptural sensuality with a coherent formal logic.

This new architecture flourishes via the new digital modelling tools that augment the design process with techniques of continuous fluidity. Zaha Hadid explains this process, “The complexity and technological advances in digital imaging software and construction
techniques have made the architecture of the Mobile Art Pavilion possible. It is an architectural language of fluidity and nature, driven by new digital design and manufacturing processes which have enabled us to create the Pavilion’s totally organic forms – instead of the serial order of repetition that marks the architecture of the industrial 20th century.”

Hadid’s innovative architecture is the reason Karl Lagerfeld invited her to create the Mobile Art Pavilion. “She is the first architect to find a way to part with the all-dominating post-Bauhaus aesthetic. The value of her designs is similar to that of great poetry. The potential of her imagination is enormous,” Karl Lagerfeld explained during the launch of the Mobile Art Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Art Biennale.

Zaha Hadid Architects’ recent explorations of natural organizational systems have generated the fluidity evident in the Pavilion for Chanel. The Mobile Art Pavilion’s organic form has evolved from the spiralling shapes found in nature. This system of organisation and growth is among the most frequent in nature and offers an appropriate expansion towards its circumference, giving the Pavilion generous public areas at its entrance with a 128m2 terrace.

The Pavilion follows the parametric distortion of a torus. In its purest geometric shape, the circular torus is the most fundamental diagram of an exhibition space. The distortion evident in the Pavilion creates a constant variety of exhibition spaces around its circumference, whilst at its centre, a large 65m2 courtyard with natural lighting provides an area for visitors to meet and reflect on the exhibition.

This arrangement also allows visitors to see each other moving through the space and interacting with the exhibition. In this way, the architecture facilitates the viewing of art as a collective experience. The central courtyard will also host evening events during the exhibition in each host city. The organic shell of the Mobile Art Pavilion is created with a succession of reducing arched segments. As the Pavilion will travel over three continents, this segmentation also gives an appropriate system of partitioning – allowing the Pavilion to be easily transported in separate, manageable elements. Each structural element will be no wider than 2.25 m. The partitioning seams become a strong formal feature of the exterior façade cladding, whilst these seams also create a spatial rhythm of perspective views within the interior exhibition spaces.


The Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel, initially inspired by Chanel’s signature quilted bag and conceived through a system of natural organisation, is also shaped by the functional considerations of the exhibition. However, these further determinations remain secondary and precariously dependent on the overriding formal language of the Pavilion. An enigmatic strangeness has evolved between the Pavilion’s organic system of logic and these functional adaptations – arousing the visitor’s curiosity even further.

In creating the Mobile Art Pavilion for Chanel, Zaha Hadid has developed the fluid geometries of natural systems into a continuum of fluent and dynamic space – where oppositions between exterior and interior, light and dark, natural and artificial landscapes are synthesised. Lines of energy converge within the Pavilion, constantly redefining the quality of each exhibition space whilst guiding movement through the exhibition. The work of selected artists has been commissioned for the exhibition. Hadid created an entire landscape for their work, rather than just an exhibition space. Visitors will be guided through the space using the latest digital technology developed in collaboration with the artists.

“The fascination of the Mobile Art Pavilion is the challenge of translating the intellectual and physical into the sensual – experimenting with completely unexpected and totally immersive environments for this global celebration of the iconic work of Chanel. I see the Pavilion as a kind of a total artwork that continually reinvents itself as it moves from Asia, to the USA and Europe,” states Zaha Hadid.

Posted on Thursday March 13th 2008 at 7:29 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • anon_

    i am so very curious the budget of something like this or the train terminal she released earlier. i cant even begin to imagine.

  • Yaya

    Sooooo… what is this?….
    Oh, an art container, that’s right.
    ..I wonder how the hell you contain and display at in here.

  • Bozo


  • Arch

    Soooo Hadidesque.
    Love this one though.

  • I’ve always been in love with Hadid

  • tim

    This looks to be the same or similar way of producing double curved surfaces in reality as used in her railway project. I rather like the effect. I wonder if she has / or will be able to perfect it down to a decent price range like Gehry has in his single curved surfaces. Hopefully not at the price of her orginality though. That would be very impressive. And this coming from someone who dislikes zaha…

  • Geo

    Its rather interesting. It sits on top of a 3 story Parking Garage….. It if was on the ground level of Hk, you wouldn’t it at all.

  • austin

    external cladding detailing seems not convincing.
    Super visible joints make it seem a deformed ceramic-tiled bathroom denying the fluidity of the form.

    Interesting interiors though.

  • bauster

    white worm!
    does not seem like a container, does it…might be a good projekt, but one can only guess…..

  • eyeontheworld

    Shouldn’t the space in which art (product) is exhibited be neutral? That is, not competing for, or even completely detracting from the actual pieces to be displayed.
    Yes, I appreciate excellence in architecture, and yes, buildings of this purpose need themselves to be “special”, to increase overall interest. I can’t help feeling that by commissioning someone of such repute (Hadid) you struggle to re-focus attentions back onto the actual art (product). The building is, as common now with Hadid – technologically integrated, organically structured… and ideologically well justified, but what does it offer? Tate Modern- simple, original exterior reveals nothing, and as a result all attention is focused on the interior: vast light drenched space, the ability to “play” with scale. Guggenheim – jaw dropping exterior. Interior- retains light, space with neutrality. Chanel Contemporary Art Container – exterior: seemly highly influenced by personal style/ commissioned brief, Interior – lacking in visible natural light, restricted space, and overtly artificial.
    Architects and designers, at the pinnacle of the profession with named reputations, seem to me to offer a double-edged sword.

  • Andrew S.

    I just can’t get past the tiles. Like Austin said, it reminds me of an 80’s ceramic bathroom. Same went for the the train terminal.

  • JuiceMajor²

    This must be her current choice of building surface eh. Frankly this one look a lot better make then the station in Graz. I am impress but wanna see more!!

    To be honest…would luv to be designing fancy architecture like this all the time!!

  • togon

    I actually like the white tiles, they’re not breaking the continuity actually, the tiles are curved, not straight segments. Nice, only zaha can create these stuff.

  • Noviardi

    is that ‘thing’ really mobile ?! How flexible is the mobile can be ?

  • Nick

    Time she gets a building done again

  • Bozo

    The tiling is very good. You guys are tripping.

  • rebecca

    makes me dream in colour. lovely.

  • To see more details about both the ‘container’ and the art within it check out:

  • it seems zaha who copies zaha who copies zaha who copies zaha…
    Deja vu!

  • creativity don’t ever death…
    imagine don’t be let off hand, make its be reality…
    big masterpiece in this time is history for the future…
    if architect masterpiece have such as this…
    such as is architect of the future…????
    to you the architect…good job…its great, beautiful..and….

    I dont know, what can i say anymore…

  • zuy

    more than 50 containers…for enter with art in the new world of new rich in G8 +BRIC

  • yw

    I’ve been to this in HongKong a few weeks ago.. On the point someone brought up about the architecture fighting for attention with the art, it doesnt happen at all; in fact the art and the architecture complement each other very well. The circulation makes it such that the whole journey is coherently connected and the experience engages all your senses.

    The space inside is really out of the world, if you have the chance, experience it and you’ll know.

  • Bonzo

    Kind of naff.

  • Gabs

    C’mon people, contemporary art is no longer 2 x 3 ft canvases. most of the exhibition is installation. Despite the design or if it screams Chanel or if the tiles look bathroom-ish or not, the idea of a travelling art pavillion is very good and quite innovative.

  • When first I laid eyes on this, I was so pleased to see Chanel continuing their on going collaborations with artists and designers. Much of the atmosphere reminded me of their in-store intstallation campaign. Chanel merged fresh, new, creative talent such as, Johan Creten, Cassius Verus, and Alec Soth, along with seasoned veterans like Yoko Ono, Paola Pivi, and Jean-Michel Othoniel. The line up is blockbuster and I heard by 2010, at the last Paris show, there will be other artists introduced in addition.

  • simon chambers

    When does it arrive in London as I would love to see it?

  • jill blaney

    How do i get tickets on the internet for The Chanel Pavillon in Central Park this Sat or Sunday , Oct 25th or 26th?

  • soheil

    can i see the plan ?

  • Jen

    Can anyone tell me what the cladding is made of and how it is fitted together…or where I van find this information?

  • fi

    the cladding is made of fiber reinforced plastic, sandwich panels (two layers of FRP with in this case glass fiber foam core between the two)

    the FRP panels are cladded onto curved I beams.. there’re many sites documenting the construction assembly process. :)

  • Can anyone tell me what the cladding is made of and how it is fitted together…or where I can find this information?