The theme of the 2012 International Exposition in Yeosu, South Korea, is “The Living Ocean and Coast”. As a response, architects at MVRDV have designed a pavilion that will contribute to raising awareness of the fragility of ocean ecosystems. The building is a kind of aquarium, a glass structure made of water basins that surround the central void. The idea was for each of the basins to display specific aspects of the ocean-the deep see, the tropical waters, the mangroves, reefs-entertaining and educating the public.
The structure is devoid of columns. The walls of the cube bear all weight, acting also as a thermal insulator for the inter object. Their latter function is particularly interesting, as it presents an empirical proof of the oceans importance as regulator of the world climate. Structural support elements are integrated within the walls. The water pressure and weight of the basins are additionally supported by using double-layered glass.
The building is accessed through an underground tunnel, leading the visitors to the central hall. From there they can take a tour of the world oceans which guides them past the water basins. The illumination of each basin can be individually programmed, according to phase of the day-night cycle they’re in.