EXTERNAL REFERENCE ARCHITECTS – Spanish Pavilion,Yeosu Expo 2012


South Korea pays homage to oceans and coasts by opening the Yeosu Expo 2012 with the slogan: The Living Ocean and Coast: Diversity of Resources and Sustainable Activities. Spain names its exhibit Spain Explores, calling attention to its unrivalled tradition of geographical exploration and scientific discovery.


The project ‘s mission is to showcase Spain ‘s nautical discoveries by turning a didactic exhibit into a sensory experience which aims to go to the heart of the visitor.


The exhibition project consists of 4 main stages:


  1. In the entrance hall, the sea routes pioneered by Spanish voyagers are shown and explained to the visitor.


  1. The central space shows three key moments in Spanish seafaring: respectively, Colombo ‘s, Malaspina ‘s and Malaspina 2010 ‘s expeditions (this latter has been carried out by the Hesperides ‘ crew). A circle split into two parts by an imaginary horizon features a didactic projection in the upper part and an interactive show in the lower one. The three expeditions are explained in detail by three Magic Glasses. These latter use cutting edge visual tools and a dynamic graphics which explains their functioning. In particular, in the rightmost showcase, the Hesperides ‘ research, which has gathered more than 8000 samples at a depth of 5000m using collection tubes, is presented. Between the two halves of the circle, a tv display, arranged vertically, shows the descent of two tubes into the depths of the sea, a sort of preview of what will be shown in the Deep Ocean room.


  1. The key area in the project is Deep Ocean. The visitors will enter a space which is lit up with samples containing water collected at a depth of 5000m. The shape of the samples is reminiscent of the tubes used by the Malaspina 2010 Expedition. This recent circumnavigation carried out by the Hesperides ‘ crew has allowed scientists to collect important data concerning the seas across the Earth. Through the use of peculiar tubular collectors of marine samples, scientists have been able to explore marine biodiversity as well as assess the impact of climate change on the Oceans. In this area, Hesperides ‘ samples become more complex, turning into hi-tech glazed amphorae which generate a sort of abyssal topography. Their water contains scientific data which can be deciphered through the shift of colour. The topography expands or shrinks to regulate the flux of users and disappears whenever the didactic projection is on. The visitors will find themselves immersed in a space filled with sounds, lights and videos which interact with each other, in a scenario which allows them to live the experience of being in the bottom of the sea. One of the key features of this experience is the projected mapping, which gives vitality to part of the installation through showing the vibrating water. Thus, Hesperides ‘ scientific research finally turns into a liquid luminescent landscape which recalls the abyss.


  1. In the last room, a Dymaxion 11m map presents Hesperides ‘ discoveries. Once more, the enclosed water is the generative and informative pixel within the installation. On an unfolded worldmap the data collected by the Malaspina expedition all over the Earth are projected. The mapping contributes to generate a magical, moving atmosphere which fills the space around. In this room, the visitors will be, once more, hypnotised by lights, sounds and colours.


The intention of the pavilion is to present its contributions and proposals for the future in response to the problems and threats which global warming represents for the marine environment.

This new multinational gathering will provide an excellent opportunity to reassert Spain’s commitment to maintaining the balance and sustainability of marine ecosystems. The idea is that visitors should develop an awareness of the problems threatening our coastlines and oceans, which we can only deal with effectively through international solidarity and cooperation.

In short, Expo Yeosu 2012 offers Spain the perfect platform to strengthen its ties with South Korea and to show the Korean people its latest scientific, technological and cultural trends. An event in which the Spanish Pavilion is once again playing a role of public diplomacy, cooperation and scientific education.



Credits and Data:

Type of projecte: Exhibition

Project: Yeosu Spanish Pavillion

Location: Yeosu, Korea

Status: 1st prize competition, Built

Opening: 05/2012

Closing: 08/2012

Client: Acci├│n Cultural Espa├▒ola

Built up area: 500 m2

Production: Manterola, Imagic, Nanuk

Pavilion: Frade Arquitectos

Art Director: Chu Uroz

Exhibition space and installations: External Reference (Nacho Toribio, Carmelo Zappulla)

Audio Visual/Mapping: Onion Lab (Aleix Fernandez)

Graphic design: Research Studio (Pablo Rovalo)

External Reference Architects (Nacho Toribio, Carmelo Zappulla) www.externalreference.com

Awarded by New Italian Blood as the best Young Italian Architects of 2011, External Reference is an architectural office involved in design and research in the fields of interior design, architecture, and landscape design.

More of a professionals net than an office Externalreference is constantly questioning conventional configurations and solutions in order to engage, speculate and innovate.
Externalreference notices that there is a big connection between evolvement of architecture projects and business models and believes in sustainable development, balance between architecture, innovative strategy and business improvement.

Directed by Nacho Toribio, Carmelo Zappulla External Reference offers a broad range of design strategies with the aim of pushing the boundaries towards new outcomes.
Looking for the unexpected the office team works on external factors as client needs, budget limits, sustainability as driving forces for the design.
Realized and under construction projects have been developed in Spain, Korea, Italy, UK, Germany, France and Russia.

External Reference won several prizes participating in international competition including first prize for the Spanish Pavilion’s exhibition space, the ONU-Art Consensus exhibition, the project Le corti di Buenos Aires, Milano and developed the winning proposal for the Toulouse Aerospace Campus in collaboration with Foreign Office Architects.

External Reference ‘s projects have been exhibited in the Venice ‘s 12th International Architecture Exhibition Biennale and Eme3.

Interested in the materialization of the projects the office team is constantly researching through lecturing and teaching at IED, Instituto Europeo di Design, Barcelona, ELISAVA and UIC, Universidad Internacional de Catalu├▒a in Barcelona; NABA, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti, Milano and in collaboration with Welsh School of Architecture Cardiff University.
Most of the relevant projects are published in several magazines including Il Sole 24 ore, Pasajes de Arquitectura, Metalocus, Via Construcci├│n, Future, Disey Magazine, Magazine-La Vanguardia, Blueprint, Materia.


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