Seoul Art Complex

The site for the Arts Complex Competition is characterized by steeply rising hillocks from a winding riverbed along which a frequently traveled roadway extends. A collection of smaller buildings nestle into the hills, dotting a mostly green landscape with their presence. 

The rugged terrain and disposition of the multiple sites make it imperative to devise a circulation system which enables convenient access for everyone. This suggests a multi-level, compact grouping of buildings set into the landscape and unified by a single horizontal surface. In that way buildings for the display and production of local art works and discussions in combination with offices, community-centered spaces for meetings and opportunities for indoor and outdoor displays can all be approached from a single level.

The new complex is anchored by a two level car park located on the river road at the base of the complex. Atop the car park, and affording entry to a semi-circular grouping of buildings, is a generous public plaza, reminiscent in some ways of Barcelona’s Park Güell, from which visitors will be offered a commanding view of the surrounding area. Paved in broken stone with small-scale planting and inviting textures, the Plaza is accessed from the car park below by a series of terraced ramps as well as more conventional elevators and a circular stairway. This “Korean Garden” forms the core of the complex, providing access to the galleries, the auditorium, and a rooftop “Jeong Ja” by extending over the existing road to form an expansive, level surface ideal for gatherings and relaxation.

Immediately below the plaza, and connected by enclosed bridges to the galleries and an extensive storage area for art works, are the offices and meeting rooms devoted to community service. Each of the offices enjoys a direct view of the river and beyond, while the storage is embedded in the hillside opposite.

Approach by car, bus, or bicycle is along the river road, to enter the first level of parking then progress directly to the third level where offices and meetings are located, or an additional level to the “Korean Garden” to meet friends or explore the complex. There you will be surrounded by a gently curved wall of brownish-red Corten steel pierced with a rich pattern of holes, and overlapped with glassed-in entry lobbies to the various facilities. 

The overall effect is to lie comfortably in the embrace of the surrounding hillocks, while avoiding the challenge of circulation via numerous ramps and stairways. Terraced gardens retained by broken stone walls descend and ascend from the “Korean Garden” into the adjoining slopes and the roofs of the complex to create a harmonious relationship to the surroundings. The whole gains coherence by a judicious use of three primary materials: broken stone masonry with grout lands, perforated and torqued Corten steel, and glass. These materials, with their natural patina, complex geometries, and inherent integrity, are meant to confer a sense of unity with the surrounding environment. Stonework which recalls the ancient walls of fortifications is enlivened by contemporary technology, while modern industrial materials gain artistic merit by controlled corrosion and exposed weldments.

The intention of this project is to create a place in which people of all ranks can come together to appreciate the artistic efforts of others, discuss their feelings, and participate in the culture of artistic endeavor. To that end, the design is open, with numerous paths, overlooks, open spaces, and places to relax. It is our hope that these principles, which are designed to unite people in their search for aesthetic fulfillment, will come into reality with the construction of this project. 

Project:Seoul Art Complex
Project Type: Cultural - Performing Arts Center