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Colourful reinterpretation: Façade design by Shift

The Tschumi Pavilion was originally built as a gallery for showing video clips as part of the "What a Wonderful World" exhibition in 1990. Five differing pavilions by Eisenmann, Hadid, Himmelblau, Koolhaas and Tschumi, all noted architects, were set up in Groningen to present the videos.  After the exhibition was over, two of the pavilions were retained: the Video Bus Stop by OMA, and the all-glass Tschumi Pavilion, which went on to serve as a gallery for exhibiting contemporary art.  

The entire Tschumi Pavilion – roof, sides and load-bearing structures – is made of glass. This material was chosen by the architect because of its reflective properties, the intention being for the surfaces to multiply the video images and thus transform the translucent building into a "visual spectacle", one that blends the virtual reality of the videos with the surroundings and their reflections in the glass.  

Shift Architecture Urbanism's transformation is a reinterpretation of this original concept. Instead of a layering and overlapping of video footage with the help of reflections, the architects use the glass surfaces to mix and blend cyan, magenta and yellow, the sole colours in their façade design. Depending on the standpoint of the spectator, these colours overlap and merge, with cyan and magenta producing blue, yellow and cyan producing green and magenta and cyan producing red.

The individual colours have been applied to the glass surfaces in the form of diagonal bars that continue around the whole structure. Diagonal strips were chosen to reinforce the effect of instability that Tschumi sought in the tilting of the pavilion, and is achieved in the way that the colours and patterns are perceived to shift when the pavilion is circled. The long sides present themselves in a cross-hatch pattern in all CMYRGB colour combinations. When viewed from an angle, the diagonal bands of colour can be made out clearly, but inside the pavilion they seem to merge and fuse with the greenery and buildings that can be seen through the glass.   

The architects have achieved a colourful reinterpretation of the original concept with their temporary transformation. Their CMW colour sheathe lends the overlapping of impressions, the suggestion of instability and the optical illusions a new dimension, making the Tschumi Pavilion an eye-catcher in Groningen again while providing it a strong and dynamic presence in the urban context.  

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