Asif Khan, a London-based practice famous for pushing the boundaries in architecture, industrial and furniture design, have revealed a pavilion for the 2018 Winter Olympics said to be ”the darkest building on Earth”. Coated in layers of Vantablack, a very discussed colour exclusive licensed for renowned artist Anish Kapoor, the building absorbs more than 99% of the light that hits it, creating beautifully deceiving illusion.
The exterior are curved, but appears flat. Rods of different lengths, holding small lights, jut out the parabolic pavilion, toward the viewer, like distant stars. At this scale, each inch could represent a lightyear. The Vantablack pigment and Asif Khan’s execution together creates a simple, near-perfect ethereum of stars for Olympic attendees to wonder at. It may be the closest thing to space to visually experience on Earth.
When entering the pavilion, viewers will experience a full spectrum of light and dark. After entering a dark portal, viewers will find themselves blinded by a bright space, eyes adjusting, viewers inside a juxtaposingly white room will watch and softly listen to a hydrophobic installation using water and corian. Likewise, visitors will trigger sensors and sensors will trigger water droplets, 25.000 per minute, to fly and meander along tiny, satisfyingly-minimal aqueducts. The drops will entangle with one another, split apart, and continue on their paths into a larger body of collective water; thus becoming a white, quantum-scale-version of the bulding’s dark, celestial exterior.
Once the eyes are fully adjusted to the white room, once you have felt the grand hugeness of the Universe, the illusive darkness, the smallness and the lightness of everything, you can walk back outside and stare once more at ”the darkest building on Earth”.