Lonely Planet Writer

See the darkest building in the world at the Winter Olympics

After years of anticipation, the 2018 Winter Olympic Games are officially underway. And besides getting the opportunity to see elite athletes from all over the world competing in a host of stunning venues in PyeongChang, those lucky enough to be in South Korea for the games will also get to see other unique treats that seem to be straight out of a science fiction universe. For one, we’ve learned that robots will play a major part in the games, and now, it’s been announced that spectators will be able to visit the darkest building in the world, a unique pavilion coated in Vantablack, a curious substance that absorbs 99% of the light that hits its surface.

The incredible pavilion displays thousands of twinkling lights designed to simulate the view from space.
The incredible pavilion displays thousands of twinkling lights designed to simulate the view into space. Image by Luke Hayes

Built by London-based architecture practice Asif Khan, the building has been sprayed in Vantablack VBx2, a derivative of Vantablack, the super-black material created through applied chemistry and holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance. In fact, Vantablack eradicates so much light, the three-dimensional look of the building actually disappears, making it seem as if a giant black void has opened up in broad daylight in front of spectators. When seen under a microscope, the coating is said to have properties similar to coral reef.

Vantablack absorbs 99% of the light that touches its surface.
Vantablack absorbs 99% of the light that touches its surface. Image by Luke Hayes

The experience doesn’t stop there. As visitors get closer to the building, they are greeted by thousands of tiny white lights that appear to float in mid-air, designed to simulate the view into space from that point on Earth. Inside the pavilion, a vast water room has been created with a multi-sensory installation that emits 25,000 water droplets every minute. Visitors interact with a series of sensors that create new rhythms with the droplets, which collect to form a lake before draining within the space of a few minutes.

Hyundai Pavilion designed by Asif Khan at PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018
Hyundai Pavilion designed by Asif Khan at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018. Image by Luke Hayes

“From a distance the structure has the appearance of a window looking into the depths of outer space. As you approach it, this impression grows to fill your entire field of view. So on entering the building, it feels as though you are being absorbed into a cloud of blackness,” Asif Khan said.

The super-black building is open now for visitors to attend at PyeongChang 2018.