Asif Khan designs the world’s darkest building for Winter Olympics 2018

Asif Khan has revealed a pavilion at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, thought to be the world’s darkest building.

The 10m-high temporary structure is spray-painted with Vantablack VBx2, a substance that absorbs over 99 percent of light and is a sprayable version of Vantablack pigment — which Anish Kapoor acquired exclusive rights for in 2016.

Images by Luke Hayes

So black that it’s almost impossible for the human eye to perceive the shape of an object it coats, VBx2 creates “the impression of a window cut into space,” Khan told Dezeen.

“It changes as you approach it. From far away, you see it as a surface of blackness, it just looks like a void,” he added. “As you approach [it], you pick out the stars, and as you get closer, the stars begin to move in parallax, which means they appear as a three-dimensional body. As you walk past it, they’re almost globular in their clustering.”

The pavilion consists of a steel substructure, bolted together on site and then clad to create the curved surfaces. A scaffold was then built around the pavilion and tented. In addition to the black coating, the pavilion also features rods tipped with tiny white lights that protrude from the ‘super-black’ parabolic curves of all four sides of the pavilion, giving the impression of stars in a midnight sky.

According to Dezeen, Khan has been in contact with the scientists behind the original Vantablack since 2013, after reading a paper on the subject and researching how to create a building that could be as black as infinite space.

“They were quite taken aback that someone would think to try and apply their materials in the built environment,” he said. “They’re a bunch of very skilled scientists who are working a lot of the time in a laboratory. They are working at nanoscale and the idea of making something that’s millions of times bigger than that hadn’t really come into their minds.”

Since then, the manufacturers have created Vantablack VBx2, which is more suited for architectural application. The light-absorbing pigmented coating is suspended in a carrier solution that allows it to be sprayed onto larger areas.

The pavilion will open on 9 February 2018, and visitors will be able to enter the pavilion through a dark corridor that opens to a bright white space lined with solid-surface material Corian.

 

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