WRITINGS / INTERVIEWS / LECTURES

ATOMIC PAVILION

Moscow, Russia / 2015


Located in the historic zone of Moscow World's Fair, this exhibition pavilion attempts to create a near-figure out of the most legible, yet difficult, architectural form: the sphere. Charged to use a sphere to represent “the grandeur of the Soviet Atomic Project” by the competition organizer, our design attempts to create a near-sphericality that unsettles this propagandist vision.

Near-sphericality
Throughout history, the sphere has intrigued architects as an autonomous form due to its lack of orientability to ground and context. Ledoux’s Maison des Gardes Agricole, in particular, reveals the truly strange problem of how spherical buildings might hit the ground: the sphere sits in a hole and is accessed by bridge, essentially deferring the problem of grounding it. Other dalliances with spheres include Rem Koolhaas’ Dubai “Death Star” and United Architects’ European Central Bank competition entry, in which both projects indifferently interface with the ground datum.

This design is closer to a meteor hitting the earth than a primitive form delicately placed in a hole or set indifferently on the ground. The proposal features two components—the near-sphere and the ground-object—which are incongruent, yet affiliated. Along its perimeter, the building contains several low-res nested figures that press out and abruptly alter the shape of the spherical container. These moments are not deformations, but rather new ambiguous features introduced into the sphere’s silhouette. The ground-object seemingly anticipates the near-sphere, but it is not a simple receiver; the ground-object has its own features and life; including primitive stepping and slicing that are independent of the pairing.


Scale Ambiguity
The envelope of the near-sphere features meandering metaseams and patchy materiality, suppressing legibility of conventional panelization. This produces strange scale effects in the building, one of the most powerful things architecture can do. In this case, the project appears simultaneously as a monument and a toy.

Client: Rosatom
Type: Exhibition Space
Floor Area: 14,000 SM.