Korean Pavilion at Expo 2010 by Mass Studies



Shanghai Expo 2010: Architects Mass Studies have unveiled their design for the Korean pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China.


The shape of the pavilion will be derived from letters forms of the Korean alphabet, Han-geul.


Its surface will be covered in white panels with a relief of letters in four different sizes and around 40,000 aluminium panels decorated in bright colours by Korean artist Ik-Joong Kang.


The ground floor will house a 3D abstract map.


Mountains form seating for visitors and a five metre wide artificial stream cools the area, where visitors will wait to enter the exhibition.


This area will be shaded by the main structure of the pavilion, containing the exhibition space, suspended seven metres above.


The pavilion will include a large exhibition space, VIP lounge, press room, conference room, restaurant, administrative facilities and a roof garden.


Model photos by Kyehnyong Kwak.

Here's some more information from Mass Studies:


The World Expo 2010, held in Shanghai, China, is expected to be the largest world expo to date. The theme of the exposition will be “Better City, Better Life,” and the event is to take place from May 1 until October 31, 2010, with more than 230 participating countries (48 of them having their own pavilions) to accommodate the 70 million expected visitors.


The Korea 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 Korea Pavilion is an amalgamation of ‘sign’ (symbol) and ‘space’: signs become spaces, and simultaneously, 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 Korea 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 whose 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 walls 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 Korea 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 the 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, we’ve 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 suspended 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 line 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 monitors, 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. We take advantage of the space by opening it up as an open flat plane, to 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













More Dezeen stories about Expo 2010:



Austrian pavilion by Span and Zeytinoglu


Danish pavilion by BIG


Polish pavilion by Wojciech Kakowski, Natalia Paszkowska and Marcin Mostafa


UAE pavilion by Foster + Partners


British pavilion by Thomas Heatherwick

Posted on Wednesday April 15th 2009 at 12:29 pm by Rachel Blunstone. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • gx

    oh yes its good

  • Balkan

    Me…DON’T LIKE IT!:)

  • m

    the expo 2010 will be like a popart/poparchitecture competition

    well, nobody’ll beat the dutch I suppose (http://www.johnkormeling.nl/ – the right frame named ‘happy street’)

  • Garth N.

    archtiecture style: Egyptian-esque (ancient) acid trip

  • DRAW

    do we have all a formalistic identity crisis???

  • Rex


  • pop

    its very ice…. very nice

  • Steven Holl MIT pavillion?

  • SouL

    oh my god!!! i would go crazy in that environment…

    too much going on in the interior and exterior… come on Korea is all about sceneries and beautiful mountains…and green open fields of rice and crops… this proposal is tooooooooo digital and confusing…

  • they can meet steven holl, n discuss this project with him…very close to what he did with MIT

  • Hals Pal

    Love the work of Mass Studies, but doesn’t this “Korean” pavilion look incredibly Dutch?

  • Janice

    Exactly, Dutch with Korean letters… o … my … gooodddd

  • kalle

    that dutch pavillion is fun!

  • It is a bit busy, but I suppose the occasion calls for this sort of sensory assault.

  • jon

    its (dutch because of) the employee // employer affect.

  • zander

    Looks nauseating to be inside there.

  • Claus

    My goodness….overkill….less is sometimes more…

  • Cindy

    i dont get in this concept
    letters with korean??
    more deep means inside?

  • p

    merging between graphics and space…..i liked it :)

  • damaiyanto

    too much.., “lebay”
    i dont think there’s something more in human-level experiences besides it’s bigness..

  • Chris Lee

    It’s nice design. Mr. Jo is so creative artist.
    Anyway, Betty? Good job~

  • Evan

    Sheesh, how many pavilions with screened walls are going to be at this expo? You’ve got the Polish pavilion, the UAE, and now this…

  • lu

    Sorry!! …

    But this is a mess. I don’t stand it, and I don’t see any creativity in it. Besid it looks ugly for me.

  • the architectural model looks detailed and stunning! mvrdv must be envious ;-)

  • Ashtree

    Its an expo,, and to “represent” and “sell out” Korea as a nation, I think this approach is good.
    It is a direct and maybe straight-forward appraoch but for the popular culture- it seems friendly.
    I love the use of the korean letters(as I know about korean language) and the art that brightens the dull modern city…(although might be abit chaotic-its just for the limited duration anyways :) )

  • Luxury Larry

    Wow…this is UGLY. Steven Holl MIT cross my mind as well. Their design for Ann Demeulemeester shop were so much more pleasing.

  • BRK

    this pavilion totally captures both the essence of Korea and the essence of Mass Studies in a single environment – spot on and a welcome addition to the expo – if you ask me


    it is very agressive and it gives me a bad feeling

  • kmin

    wow! I am Korean and I can see they’ve tried to work with KOREAN LETTERS! but I don’t see the essence of it..!! is it just me?? i don’t smell Korean-ness here. in fact it looks all messy..

  • I dont understand it… I like it!

  • titisnurabadi

    personally…i dont like it, does it has a connection with the world expo theme (The theme of the exposition will be “Better City, Better Life,”)?? i agree with you guys, its merely seems like a dutch expo than Korea itself. c’mon Korea…Where is your Identity..??, i think we all have the same problem here.. “Lack of our own Identity”..

  • Alvin

    Firstly, too much patterns going on and therefore i don’t like it.
    Secondly, did they reference to Steven Holl???

  • chee hong

    sorry, man. I don’t like it. make me dizzzzy

  • sarangola

    the whole space becomes a symbol and that symbol comes from KOREAN LETTERS. umm~~
    Giant korean letters laying in the land of china forming a space to rest and interact, that is a good example of presenting the concept of korean architecture.:)

  • fiza

    architecture is much more than just pretty rendering and 3d graphics..its about the serving the function of the space, the interior environment and overall experience the architecture creates…now This is a total MESS..y would the Koreans want to showcase themselves in dis ugly monster…for god sake..choose architects who know their job…they r representing your country!!! i m sure the essence of korea is much more than just their letters

  • gaguri

    I have to agree with fiza above. I’m a Korean myself but I have to admit that Korean pavilion left a lot to be desired. First of all, I have to say they were not very successful with their concept of ‘converging shapes of korean letter to form space’. There are lot of examples, but just to name one, I could see very little thoughts put into the staging area where the performances were being held. Pavilions like Romania, or even India (which wasn’t that great) showed good relationship between performance stage/audience, but for Korean pavilion it was just a stage plugged into an empty stage, and that huge space just felt so empty. And they say they took advantage of the view towards Huangpu river, which I have to say is completely false. The restaurant at 2nd floor offers no view because of that damned patterned facade, and the ‘sky lounge’ is nothing more than a rooftop, or what we koreans call 옥상 (which has a negative connotation of being cold and stale, which this ‘sky lounge’ was).

    One thing I will give credit for is that the facade looks even better than the rendering. It’s just so interesting and exciting to see from afar, and close up. I’d personally put it right up there with UK pavilion in terms of elevation view. Too bad the overall ‘architecture’ of it wasn’t as good.