The first key concept in our design is the foundation. Typically, Korean architecture defines a building by making its foundation follow the rhythm of the landscape. Rather than cut into the soil, we divided the land into many pieces and made many foundations so that even the infrastructure is fragmented to create multilevels. Despite the project having only one program, we tried to showcase the structure as houses within a house rather than one singular building, creating the appearance of a village.
Madang is the Korean word for courtyard and our design provides one to each floor. While traditional courtyards are on a level plane we aggregated our madangs into stacked areas that provide additional public space. The first level’s madang is L-shaped, for example, to create a courtyard in front and, when stacked, generate a natural route people can follow to ascend to the building’s higher levels. Program requirements included a gallery, library, and classroom, all of which are housed in the L-shape and can be extended into the courtyard with a flexible wall that provides exterior exposure. Here, channel glass is applied for transparency.
The stacked madang, or ki-wa, help define the sloping concrete roof shape we employed as a fresh take on the traditional korean roof structure. Like shallow slices of an apple, the individual yet connected roofs share an organic shape, one that provides a continuous surface and blends softly with surrounding mountains.
The promenade that runs through the building is extended to every level to ensure no dead-ends. In fact, the route connects to a nearby park we designed, creating a circular loop with the world beyond. Drawing on local customs, we translated traditional Korean roof architecture into a modern representation that mirrors the terrain’s peaked nature.
Client: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Size: 35000 SF
Team: Brian Lee, Boram Lee, Steven Kocher