Aerial view
Exterior view
Aerial view
Interior view
Interior view
Interior view
Interior view
Framed view of the daylight sky above
Constructive axonometric
Shadow diagrams

NAME_ light lab 5.1

PLACE_ EASA workshop, Helsinki, Finland

MATERIAL_ light, darkness, timber, plywood, paint

FUNCTION_ light laboratory

DESCRIPTION_ Light to dark to light our senses soar. In the northern
hemisphere, summer is a time of perpetual brightness. The beauty of
this phenomenon and indeed its magnificence becomes lost as people
immersed in their daily endeavour’s struggle to cope with a world
encapsulated in constant light… Constant daylight brings with it a
sense of destabilisation and disfunctionality as the body’s mechanism
is thrown out of its natural evolutionary 24 hour cycle… Where does
day end and night begin? Time’s motion, the clock and even the earth’s
very orbit around the sun are rendered irrelevant. Daylight reigns
supreme in a land of permanent sunlight.

We wanted the pavilion to serve a duality of purpose. Not only should
it be a place of retreat from the sun’s overpowering intrusiveness but
a place where light and its impact is understood, appreciated and
respected. Our pavilion would become a nirvana of black darkness
wherein encompassed and isolated, people would question their very
relationship with the sun, and how their lives might function within
this environment.

Viewed from a distance, the triangular form’s yellow luminosity
welcomes you invitingly and enticingly as you walk across the plaza.
Its shape glistening in the sun cannot but attract and lure for
further exploration. Exteriorly its shape acts as a natural sundial
and the passage of the day is captured and mapped as its shadows are
projected around the structure. While time’s motion is never
immediately evident by observing the sun’s position in the sky, this
structure serves as a user friendly clock. In early morning and late
evening, sharp elongated 80 meter shadows are projected right across
the plaza towards the entrance as people come and go. The bright
luminous yellow reflects the industrial surrounding of the site and
adds extra drama to this strange form sitting silently, waiting to be

On approaching the pavilion you are exposed to the bright incessant
and relentless northern sun. You pull back on one of its outer walls
and it slides open quietly on its hidden wheels. It opens just enough
to allow you to enter and reveals an undiscovered hidden utopia
inside. Stealthily you enter this realm and the door closes firmly
behind you. As you enter the pavilion you become lost in a womb of
sheer blackness. Your eyes adjust slowly as you acclimatize to this
surreal inviting darkness and as you feel the gentle waft of cool air
brush your skin, you realise you are in a magical world. An air of
tranquil relaxation invades all senses.

You find yourself in a tall narrow space, enticing you inward and
onwards. A small bench at the end of the pavilion bids you come
forward. The space here inverts on itself and transforms into a low
wide environ. With an air of expectation you walk down slowly into it.
You take the seat. Your eyes now fully adjusted to the darkness, you
observe the intense streaks of light in the darkness, shape changing,
mood altering, atmosphere inducing. Comfortable in the tranquil
surroundings you sit totally motionless and calm. You wait in tranquil
darkness unperturbed, totally at ease in your environment. More
surprises now follow. Reclining backwards on your seat, you exert
pressure on the wall and instantaneously the hinged wall opens up and
a new vista emerges. Natural light comes pouring in. Once again your
eyes acclimatise, albeit slowly, to the sudden incoming torrent of
light and you are greeted with a framed view of the daylight sky

Returning once more to an erect seated position, a hidden
counterweight automatically closes the wall and complete darkness once
more engulfs. Whilst seated in the comfort and solitude of the
darkness, other curious travellers embark on this journey of light you
have recently experienced… Witnessing their voyage, you observe a
ghostlike silhouette emerging before you. A new inquisitive explorer,
probing and savouring the experience, walks silently and carefully
onward and forward. You observe their every step, relishing their
sensations and sharing their emotions… Momentarily you are blinded
by their entrance and left to guess who approaches. You become fixated
on their form, their movements; there smells, their very essence and
reactions. Recognition of their identity only becoming apparent, when
they are in your immediate view and with eyes adjusted you are capable
of identification.

With reluctance you arise from your seat and leave the space. You
depart, enlightened, nourished and enriched by the experience. You
venture forth once more into the beckoning daylight with a new
appreciation of light and darkness. All energy replenished by this
interlude and reinivigorated, you confront the intense sun once more.

ARCHITECTS_ VAVarchitects: Pablo Bolinches Vidal, Darragh Breathnach,
Daria Leikina

COLLABORATORS_ Veniyana Lemonidi, Matteo Goldoni, Jonathan Russell,
Nicholas Dunlop, Tati Leonteva, Alexandra Polyakova, Tereza Scheibova,
Anna Podrouzkova, Libor Mládek, David Buhagiar, Aulon Harizaj, Jim

TIME_ 16-29 July, 2012

PHOTOS_ VAV & Jonathan Russell