top of page

Facsimile Pavilions

Benjamin Fowler

The human condition is strongly bound to the sun and the daylight it provides. Our natural rhythms are in many ways dictated by our ability to glean information from sunlight, not only when to wake and when to sleep but also how to navigate space. It is also essential to the human body and well being, with Vitamin D deficiency, which can come from lack of sunlight, linked to multiple diseases, while “high serotonin levels [from the sun] result in more positive moods and a calm yet focused mental outlook.”
Sunlight is often the first and most important consideration in architectural design. Direct light is often desirable for most living spaces. It is also a law in many countries that workers have a certain amount of sunlight at their workplace and a direct visual connection to outside. Industrial and artistic spaces often require as much light as possible, but none of it direct, favoring north facing more even light.
Light also brings identity to a space, therefore in this pavilion, the different qualities of daylight are highlighted through a series of spaces, each with contrasting conditions. The experiences use the qualities of light and also qualities of the lack of sunlight, shadow and sunlight in complement and contrast. Historic and modern references are reproduced into facsimile structures to recreate the essential elements of the referenced architecture. The structures invoke an essence of the quality of daylight that can be found in those original spaces. These spaces are then placed in sequence, to allow for the viewer to experience them as a linear display of daylight conditions, allowing for a comparison of spaces that are geographically and typologically different.
The spaces are chosen, only as a few contrasting and famous examples. These shown are in no way considered a comprehensive study on daylight, but are several links in a chain of possibly endless configurations. They are also chosen as the source of light comes mainly from above, allowing the walls to remain neutral and only the ceiling or roof to be interchanged.

The spaces shown here are as follows:
The Pantheon, Rome, Italy. As likely the most famous and definitely the most ancient example, the design of the Pantheon is intrinsically linked to daylight. The oculus in the top of its dome recreates the function of a type of ancient sundial, although not as an accurate instrument, markings within the interior do point to the building having a symbolic connection to the sun , including elements which indicate a strong correlation with the Egyption sun cult . The light condition found in the pantheon is also recreated in a minimalist form in the Skyspaces from the artist James Turrell. As in the Pantheon “they create a space that is completely open to the sky, yet seems enclosed. The sense of closure at the juncture appears to be a glassy film stretched across the opening, with an indefinable space beyond this transparency that changes with sky conditions and sun angles.”
Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE. This space uses an immense and complex structure to recreate a forest like atmosphere on the Persian Gulf. From the Architects website it aims to “create a welcoming world serenely combining light and shadow, reflection and calm.”
Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria. The architect Peter Zumthor cleverly uses voids between floors to bring natural light into the gallery spaces. The light “penetrates through lateral daylight gaps running around the building” and is filtered through the etched glass suspended ceiling. It is often supplemented with artificial light, but in this pavilion, the atmosphere of a closed room with glowing familiar sunlight is made using the same structure.
Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland. This “Church in the Rock” uses a ring of skylights illuminating the space. The deep louvres between each glass pane act as baffles, impeding much direct light and creating a soft glow of reflected light, much as Sverre Fehn’s Venice Pavilion which created a diffuse light, which has been described as nordic in character.

The pavilions are made as approximate circles. Circular as to not imitate the domesticity of a “normal” room but to reflect more significant spaces. It also encourages the focus to be on the light quality itself rather than the interplay of light and form in the corners of a space, which would also change more dramatically throughout the day. Three of the four spaces are in reality circular in some way, but any further spaces, the recommendation would be to keep the circular generic form.

The exterior is considered very much like a backstage view to the cinematic spaces, with all simple and improved construction visible. The focus of the project is purely on the daylight, therefore it can be considered a mock-up of real spaces in 1-direction only. The language of the pavilion suggests a performance, such as the stage scenery in a mock-up town in a spaghetti western.

bottom of page