A Deeper view inside PRADA Transformer in Seoul

published in: Architecture, Fashion By Marcia Argyriades, 01 August 2009

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COCKTAIL AT TRANSFORMER JUNE 26
Courtesy of PRADA

Rem Koolhaas is undoubtedly one of the “Kool-est” and most influential architects!  TIME Newsmagazine in 2008 put him in their top 100 of The World's Most Influential People.  PRADA has been collaborating with Koolhaas and his architectural firm OMA since 2000, as a result of their long-term collaboration Koolhaas was asked by PRADA to design a building for four events in one pavilion, when at the same timeChanel canceled its fabulous traveling portal of luxury, the Mobile Art Exhibit designed by Zaha Hadid, because of the economic downturn

exterior view of Prada Transformer
photo Courtesy of PRADA


The Prada Transformer is considered an unusual building which has one of four different apparent shapes, depending on the function of the building which is needed at the moment.  How did this idea come about?  Well, the past years there has been an interaction of applied arts; fashion is in architecture, architecture is in fashion; art is in fashion; art is in architecture and so on so forth!  Some decades ago these disciples were separate and different, in current day they act as one.  The concept behind this project is the following a hosting of four different events in one pavilion.  The events hosted were a PRADA fashion exhibition, a cinema, a fashion show, and an art collection exhibition.  The pavilions' shape is that of a tetrahedron; a tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each vertex.  The tetrahedron is one kind of pyramid, which is a polyhedron with a flat polygon base and triangular faces connecting the base to a common point.  Cranes have been used throughout the event to lift the building in the air and rotate it so that the tetrahedron levels with the ground on one side and therefore change the building’s form and function while it leaves the remaining three shapes to compose the ever-changing building form. 

exterior view of Prada Transformer
photo Courtesy of PRADA

MEMBRANE
photo © Nacasa & Partners

MEMBRANE
photo © Nacasa & Partners


Even when the building has rotated and changed its identity the visitor can always look at the plans of the other events which are like a memory that define the space.  The facades of the tetrahedron are not those of the triangle; other shapes were used instead like a hexagon, a cross, a rectangle and a circle

  • the hexagon was used for the PRADA fashion exhibition
  • the cross was used for the art exhibition
  • the rectangle as a movie theater
  • the circle for a special event. 

The transformation of this project reminds us very much of the Japanese toy line of the 1970s Microman and Diaclone which in 1984 became known to us by Hasbro as Transformers G1. 

steel structure
photo © Nacasa & Partners

steel structure
photo © Nacasa & Partners

The construction of the 20 meter pavilion took almost two months; the steel structure is enclosed in an elastic translucent membrane.  For the entrance the translucent membrane is cut and can be opened or closed with zippers.  The pavilion is connected to an adjacent service block which consists of 20 container vans that dock on a 70 meter long corridor.  The space between the containers and the corridor is framed with polycarbonate sheets, while its flooring is perforated metal.  The containers sides are sheltered with translucent glass walls, while each container has a specific supporting purpose.  Every time that the installation is rotated hosting a different event, the pavilions interior design changes as well; the changes include and are not limited to special furniture, lighting, electronics and various items.  Korean interior design and construction company Eunmin Space and Design was appointed as the general contractor for the project.  However, without the invaluable assistance of LG Electronics Inc., Hyundai Motor Company, Red Resource Inc., Hi Seoul! Soul of Asia, and Korea 2010-2012 VISIT KOREA YEAR none of this would have been realized. 

CINEMA
photo Courtesy of PRADA

CINEMA
photo Courtesy of PRADA

CINEMA
photo Courtesy of PRADA

This building has the form of a dynamic and living organism.  By Koolhaas it is characterized as a mix of a blob and an anti-blob.  Blobitecture is a movement in architecture in which buildings have an organic, amoeba-shaped, bulging form.  Prada Transformer is a mixture of a blob and an anti-blob due to its identifiable rough shape which creates a connection with the soft material.  Therefore, the combination of the rough shapes which have a clear form and the elastic translucent membrane make a combination where this building isn’t clearly identified in one category instead it is in both. 

birdeye view
Courtesy of PRADA

The installation has been placed next to the Gyeonghui Palace of Seoul, South Korea.  The location inspires a strong Asian atmosphere and the city which is built around the palace has many western influences.  According to Koolhass it reflects the ambiguity of something western in the closeness of something so Asian.  Sebastian Suhl, president of Prada Asia Pacific noted that the project is an indication of the importance that the company places of the Korean market.  Due to Seoul’s vibrant cultural atmosphere and the support of the city officials Prada Transformer was placed in Seoul rather than any other Asian city.

Remment Lucas Koolhaas is a Dutch architect, architectural theorist, urbanist and "Professor in Practice of Architecture and Urban Design" at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, USA. Koolhaas studied at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Koolhaas is the principal of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, or OMA, and of its research-oriented counterpart AMO, currently based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. In 2005 he co-founded Volume Magazine together with Mark Wigley and Ole Bouman.

 

WAIST DOWN // exhibition setup
photo Courtesy of PRADA

 

WAIST DOWN // exhibition setup
photo Courtesy of PRADA

WAIST DOWN // exhibition setup
photo Courtesy of PRADA

Turn into Me // art exhibition, rendering
Courtesy of OMA

The closing event of the pavilion is a Prada fashion show for 500 guests.The date of the event has not yet been established.  However, tha last noted event is on Wednesday, September 30, 2009.  For further information regarding the events and their dates, do log on to the Prada Transformer website by clicking here.

sources:

PRADA Transformer

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    Anna Sullivan | 2011-10-20 13:20:28

    I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E! Incredible, what can I say. I’m amazed with this architecture and they way it came out to look like, my God, really, I’m impressed, and even more because I’m in love with Prada as a brand, and I check out all that they do. Not long ago I ended up in Barcelona, Spain, for some work issues, and I went to this amazing store, Santa Eulalia, I was impressed, and the best of all is that I found brands such as Lanvin or Prada Barcelona! I’ll leave you the link, amazing, http://www.santaeulalia.com/

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