Sun Pavilion

Kansas City, MO

840 SF of temporary installation at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Sun Pavilion was a temporary structure designed to foster and enhance the relationship between people, technology, and the built environment. Developed as the winning entry from an international design competition, the Generator Studio design demonstrates progressive research and development strategies through innovations in sustainable design, material assemblies and construction methods.

Located on the south lawn of the Nelson, the project absorbs light to produce its own electricity, contrasting with the adjacent light-emitting cubes of the Steven Holl-designed Bloch building. The pavilion harnesses solar radiation through 150 photovoltaic panels, which doubles as the roof enclosure and single source for HVAC, lighting and power – being 100% off-grid. To educate visitors about the technologies implemented on site, real-time energy data is available; in addition, interactive displays are provided in the shipping containers that encourage visitors to gain practical knowledge about generating electricity.

The project’s dynamic roof structure interacts with the orthogonal form of the ground elements to define the visitor experience, which intentionally blurs the line between indoor [closed] space and outdoor [open] space. This interplay allows Sun Pavilion to maximize natural light and breezes while minimizing southern exposure; enabling efficient use of on-site generated power only where necessary to ensure occupant comfort.

The project’s limited material palette (solar panels, scaffolding, shipping containers and 75% recycled composite deck) employs a majority of previously used and modular materials, dramatically limiting construction waste and limiting waste upon disassembly, as nearly all materials will be returned to their lenders for reuse.