Traditional materials for making lanterns, such as translucent fabric and bamboo, have been applied on a large scale. A light-weight steel geodesic dome forms the pavilion’s primary structure and is the basis for a computer-generated grid wrapped around it. This grid is materialised through a secondary structure from bamboo. For this, Hong Kong’s traditional bamboo scaffolding techniques were used – a high-speed, intuitive way of building scaffoldings even for skyscrapers. This highly intuitive and imprecise craft was merged with exact digital design technology to accurately install and bend the bamboo sticks. This grid was then clad with stretch fabric flames, all lit up by animated LED lights.
The pattern the bamboo and flames follow is based on an algorithm for sphere panellisation that produces purity and repetition around the equator and imperfection and approximation at the poles. The gradual change, combined with the swooping and energetic curves that define the geometry, creates a very dynamic space that draws views up towards the tip. By putting the axis of this cladding grid not vertical but under an angle, the dome gets an asymmetric directionality. This motion is reinforced by the entrance which is placed along this tilted axis and hints people to move into the sphere and be swept away along the grid’s tangents and vectors. The colouration of the pavilion amplifies this effect that aims to submergence visitors in a light wonderland. On top of the black painted steel structure, which forms a neutral base, eight different saturated colours of stretch fabric are used for the flames. The colours gradually range from ivory and yellow to intense orange, red and deep bordeaux. The brightest colours are used at the tilted base whereas the darkest colours are used at the pole where they, together with the more scrambled geometry, make the pattern disintegrate into the black night sky.
The Golden Moon was built in only 11 days and shows how, through a combination of state-of-the-art digital design technology with traditional manual craftsmanship, complex geometry can be built at high speed and low cost with the simplest of means. It rethinks the premise of digital design by anchoring the paradigm in a strong materiality. Expected to be visited by 500,000 people, the pavilion uses its dynamic space, structure, colour, texture and light to trigger a sensuous response from visitors of 2012’s Mid-Autumn Festival.