Scent Pavilion by Alan Lu



Here's another student project, this time a pavilion designed by Alan Lu at the University of California.


The conceptual pavilion was designed for a fictional perfume brand and would be situated at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan.


The information below is from Alan Lu:


I am a forth year (last year) architecture student at University of California, Berkeley in the U.S. The work was done as part of a comprehensive graduate studio led by Peter Testa of Testa & Weiser, completed this fall (2008).


The brief for this project is a pavilion structure situated in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, Japan for a fictitious perfume production company. The aim of the project was to explore the emergent structural morphology of rheological materials that could be applied to a series of nested bioclimatic envelopes in the form of a visitor pavilion. It serves as a departure point for research into membrane systems that are porous, microporous, layered, bubbled and/or foamed surfaces.


As an interface between the public and scent fabrication, the scent pavilion emerged from fluid simulations and branching networks. The project then evolved into a formal separation of scent synthesis and commercial sales within the pavilion. Operational envelopes composed of a double layered performative membranes create controlled climates while a fiber glass structure both stabilizes the structure and disperses scents to specific chambers, giving the public access to the art of scent making.


The program for the pavilion called for a series of small compact experimental growing chambers for plant materials from two distinct climate zones. Other required spaces included chambers for scent customization, a dark and thermally stable storage area, seating, display, and sales area. The separation of enclosed and open were thus defined by the material properties of the skin.


In addition to explorations in computational material forms and rheological materials, a second facet of the project dealt with thermodynamics - the consideration of form as responsive to the flow of energy and matter.


As a result, interior air quality and light modulation were under careful development and analysis to allow for distinct environmental conditions. There were also considerations about structural performance based on avoiding stress concentrations.


Posted on Sunday January 4th 2009 at 12:42 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • nickthegreek

    “the emergent structural morphology of rheological materials that could be applied to a series of nested bioclimatic envelopes”


  • kc

    It looks pretty but these, uh, “considerations” about thermodynamics, interior air quality, light modulation and structural performance sound a bit a like BS without any diagrams to show for them.

  • Ajua

    Little bit to late, maybe 8 years ago!
    Decoi, Nox etc…

  • Gam

    Is Dezeen just trawling student blogs to find projects? Perhaps due to bad economy nothing is getting built.

  • NMiller

    I have a strong disdain for projects that use radical forms and “challenging” structures and all the end result amounts to is some sort of silly “pavilion” or “bus shelter”. Is this the best possible use for a “nested bioclimactic envelope” and “emergent structural morphology”??? A pavilion???

    The designers seem to be so insecure with their pseudo-scientific inventions that they can’t envision how the ideas can be relevant beyond the context of some kind of exhibit or installation.

    Cool renderings, though.

  • vampire

    post-industrial generation of architects are making their clients to become slaves of materials and products they produced. the architect only discovers new design possibilities for its own sake. the fact is eye-catching design can earn architectural amateurish clients’ money. building design is more and more focus on superficial aspects of architecture invented by zaha who won pritzker only for her courage but not for her design itself, therefore her idea shouldn’t be the theme of 21st century. people-oriented architecture (such as villa sovoye) is transformed into material-oriented luxury goods. ornamentation itself is not crime, but the purpose of it. the sole function of this kind of building is for investment again the financial crisis. people living in it can only be sybaritic and sensuous. i guess we are running into another period equivalent to rococo. i don’t mean it is bad, but see how many obese and overweight people walking on the street in the industrialized world. we are becoming slaves of commodities – meat, fat, oil, and this kind of architecture is like heroin to 21st century architects. i’d really appreciate to see architectures less superficial more directed inside the mind that reflecting the meaning of one’s life, to see a building that can make people more like a healthy human and less like pigs… zaha is good because she is the first people designing the fluidity stuff. anyone imitate this again and again is shit. if an architect want to design sth really innovative, he/she should try to be the first one to do that.

  • junihaoni

    question : does extremely good renderings justify good architecture?

  • andy

    Wow, Dezeen is 3 for 3 right in a row.

    “Operational envelopes composed of a double layered performative membranes create controlled climates while a fiber glass structure both stabilizes the structure and disperses scents to specific chambers, giving the public access to the art of scent making.”

    Please, wall sections. I need to know how magic works.

  • NMiller
    Yap. For making some new architecture with function, you have to redesing all furniture, all comunication, area around your building, new construction techniques. Everything must be new. Too much work for non comercial students :D

  • patrick lehman

    “Operational envelopes composed of a double layered performative membranes create controlled climates while a fiber glass structure both stabilizes the structure and disperses scents to specific chambers, giving the public access to the art of scent making.”
    What a bunch of JibberJabber! I’m in favor of beauty as it’s own end, and I know young talent requires patience and encouragement. But this blather has got to stop, or he’ll wind up proposing a freedom tower that is 1776 feet tall. Oh, right…that’s already happened.
    As an old window display designer, accept my suggestion; make something that is beautiful, that doesn’t need the cloak of Meeting The Design Brief, unless you intend to bore everyone who views it for as long as it exists. Reading all that is insulting, like hearing Brancusi’s bird in space was created so it wouldn’t take up a lot of room on the floor. The work is beautiful, I love it. I just wish we could cut the linguistic fig leaves. Ultimately it will have to live on it’s own merit. And it does. So Bravo…

  • tman

    too much and yet not enough. This type of design looks very silly in the face of the global economy. it is the restaurant equivalent of serving up black truffles.

  • one

    Post Industrial… inetrsting… less CO2? WHat is the relationships with this soft complex geometry and the current mode of aesthetics? Streight lines to be abandoned,…

  • nomad

    i would like to see some of the final year projects of these negative posters. Agreed that there is alot of architetonic speech going on, but remember this is a STUDENT NOT a PROFESSIONAL. I think the scale of the project is suitable for a student to tackle the scale enables the student to try to grasp the complexities and discover the possibilities so it can then be applied to other projects. To the author keep up the work and like someone said post some diagrams of the rationale behind your proposals.

  • D

    This project is as simple as a weeks study on point selection, and sub dividing geometry in maya… Take a look on archinect’s student projects, there are hundreds of examples and most of them are far more developed.

  • Mr. Roboto

    No sections, just a sexy renderings

  • NMiller

    It isn’t that everything must be new. I think the project is too small for the ideas… especially since this is an academic project and is not restricted by scope or budget. Perhaps the class curriculum is the real problem here, but that is another discussion.

    And I give no leeway to students over professionals because I think good work and ideas can come from anyone.

    To me it seems like a waste of energy to put concepts such as “bioclimactic operational envelopes”, “performative memranes”, and “high performance structure” into the design of a pavilion that few would be able to visit should it be built. We have seen this kind of work in renderings, installations, and exhibits for over 10 years now and the ideas have not progressed beyond exotic form and image making. True experimentation is one thing… wasting time is another.

    Why not invest the effort into studying and hypothesizing how these concepts improve day-to-day environments such as the office, the house, the school, the grocery store? What if we inject the concepts into the urban fabric, not as sculpture, but as infrastructure? It may look completely different, but it might actually do something substantial… and be less of a gimmick.

  • gaque

    amen nmiller.

    mr. lu, would you please explain in more detail the climate zones and thermodynamics? and why you chose this atypical approach? thanks, best regards.

  • king

    build it for a common man….n maybe we’ll talk!….

    but atleast u dreamt of it..kudos to u!

  • JC

    bunch of losers who can’t get things built in reality are complaining in the cyber world and trying to critise on any kind of abstract conceptual and unpractical works . i did not mean architecture is only meaning when u can get your works built, but please, this is just academic research. should all the student just post their modernism design here in dezeen? i realise any posts related with organic staff or zaha posts get the most critical comments, but look at the monthly review of dezeen in 2008, zaha hadid is almost in every single month. i have seen many crazy sketches from a simple point of starting to being built. at the beginning it could be just a nice shape, then thinking about the people and the context and all the pratical things, it becomes a project which is no less thoughtful for human being. cant we just try to find some valuable things from this project?

  • Dave_/

    Interesting work. As someone else said, the dismissive amongst us should post their own student projects up for criticism and see if they are quite so loudmouthed. I’m sure some of the gaps in the communication are due to a limitation in the amount of work on show and the terminology used to describe. Creativity should be encouraged, a bit of indulgence in student work is far from a crime. I’m glad dezeen showcases some student work, keeps it a bit fresh.

  • Sakshi

    I absolutely agree with vampire.
    Wonder these kind of things makes sense to whom?

    Its good to allow people to think out of box and fresh, but tell me something…………….
    Coming up with anything different which only looks beautiful, work a bit to just make it stand and consider climatic factors to make people realize that its something architectural ……..
    Is this architecture???

  • Michael

    It certainly does smell!

  • El Greco

    SCI-ARc/Columbia/UCLA/AA… about half the students ALWAYS do projects that look just like this (read: my first flirtations with Maya) and are always theoretically backstopped by a log jam of gibberish terms collected randomly by thumbing through Derrida and back issues of ANY magazine.

    I wonder what Peter Testa thinks of this project. Knowing him just a little I can’t imagine this resonates with him.