of Art in
747-18, Hannam-Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul
Samsung Art Foundation
Samoo Architects & Engineers,
Ove Arup and Partners, London
Net floor area
10'000 m², 1'600 m² for exhibition purposes
The museum occupies a marginal position and is set higher up than the other buildings in the new development. At the highest point of this particular relief condition, the design becomes a landmark and is representative for the new urbanization proposed by the Samsung Foundation. The trees on the top of the building are reminiscent of the fluttering flags on medieval towers or frontier posts. The presence of this building, rich in symbolic connotations, completes the top end of the urbanization proposed for the hill. The museum volume stands as an isolated object rising up from the sloping green plane joining a high and low road. The building emerges from the ground as a set of two simple linked volumes: a parallelepiped linear building in the upper part and an inverted cone volume (wider on the top) in the lower part, which enters the ground near the low road. The architectural language in the handling of the surfaces of the two volumes complements each other with an evidence of horizontal bands, clad in terracotta tiles: plane panels in alternation with trapezoidal sectioned elements (both of ca. 50 cm height) for the parallelepiped linear volume and only trapezoidal sectioned tiles for the cone volume. In this way, a one and only modular system resolves the cladding of the circular cone surfaces of the exhibition building. But, besides a technical and functional respond given to the museum for ceramics, the building puts forward some questioning referred to architecture. The adopted character of the simple, primary and geometric volumes, with its abstract shape in this building transforms into a figurative language. It is evident that the reversed cone represents the core of the whole exhibition system, but despite of its geometric abstraction, it becomes in the same time a figurative sign. In the interior of the building, the visitor is led downstairs trough the central light core and invited to follow - level after level - the circular crown that offers a path through a space with oblique walls. While the showcase of the exhibition item instead, is the element that re-establishes the verticality privileging a unique and direct relation with the visitor.