Gallery: The Shape-shifting Prada Transformer Building


Rem Koolhaas has repeatedly wowed us with his unique buildings, but this one takes the cake. Designed in collaboration with Prada, the Transformer is a pavillion designed to accommodate an array of cultural programs and functions including art, architecture, film, and fashion. And because Koolhaas is never one to bow to tradition, his solution literally transforms depending on the necessary functions, changing shape like origami for different activities, events, and seasons. Koolhaas solution?

Transformer will be built from a steel framed tetrahedron skinned in a plastic membrane. The tetrahedron is framed by four shapes: A hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle. Depending on the activity, whether staging a fashion show or showing a movie, the pavilion will be lifted, rotated on its axis, and put back down. For instance, when a movie is being shown, the floor will be the rectangle. When the fashion show is on, the cross might be more appropriate to accommodate a runway, and so on.

The shape-shifting building will be located in central Seoul, from the end of March to July 2009.  And given the short timeframe for the project as well as the somewhat excessive materiality, we can’t deny that the physics and concept make for a very intriguing architectural precedent.

+ The Prada Transformer


or your inhabitat account below


  1. holterbarbour March 24, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    This is right across from my office building (indeed, the overhead shot was taken from our roof).

    I’ve seen this thing in various stages of construction, although for the past few weeks it’s been covered in scaffolds and tarp (even the top!). It’s designed to be lifted by cranes and shifted- there weren’t any hydraulics or anything at the base, just a concrete foundation. The structure itself was a bunch of I-beams when it was last exposed, and I imagine they’ll simply re-bolt the thing to the foundation with each rotation.

    As for safety, it’s in a public park (Gyeonghui palace), so I don’t think they will be disrupting much when maneuvering it. Just rope it off for a bit and let the crane do its work.

    And although the overhead shot makes Seoul look really grey and dreary (which for certain it is during winter), it is incredibly lush and green during the summer. When this is done, it will be in a much more welcoming environment.

    Still, it’s a hell of a lot of work for a temporary structure. March to July? It’s almost April and it’s not open yet. And July? What Americans consider summertime weather lasts through October in Seoul… why keep it for such a short time?

  2. jacklyn March 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    insanely cool!

  3. crackgerbal March 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    sounds really cool as far as multi use structures go. There are some things i would need to know to be sold on this idea though.

    1. what powers the transforming movements…gas engines, hydraulics, electric motors?
    2. how energy efficient is the transformation process?
    3. do they need to clear the area for a 1/4 of a block to make the transformations safe, Just don’t want people running in there while its moving.

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home