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By
AFP
Published
Apr 22, 2009
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Shape-shifting Transformer makes debut at ancient palace

By
AFP
Published
Apr 22, 2009

SEOUL, April 22, 2009 (AFP) - It looks like a giant tent pitched by aliens who landed overnight in the yard of one of Seoul's ancient royal palaces.


Artist's impression of the Prada Transformer Cinema (www.prada-transformer.com)

Welcome to the Prada Transformer -- billed as the world's first shape-shifting building -- which can be lifted and rotated into different configurations to house art, film, fashion and other events.

"It's a kind of statement that architecture doesn't always have to be heavy... stable and repetitive," Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas told journalists at a preview Wednesday.

The structure, funded by the Prada Group, has four different shapes -- a hexagon, cross, rectangle and circle.

Construction cranes will lift and rotate the structure into different facades and floor plate configurations to create a new venue for each cultural event.

"When you rotate this building, its floor becomes walls and walls become the floor," said Alexander Reichert, senior architect of the Dutch-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

Situated next to the 16th century Gyeonghui Palace in the busy South Korean capital, the Transformer is also a visible symbol of the contrast between modernity and tradition, he said.

Koolhaas said architecture must accommodate many different activities. "That is the essence of architecture," he said.

"Waist Down - Skirts by Miuccia Prada" will make its Korean debut on April 25 at the Transformer, showcasing a collection of skirts by the Italian fashion powerhouse.

The exhibition space will be transformed into a cinema in June.

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