Seoul National University Museum of Art is an exhibition of the Korean contemporary arts. Opened to the public in 2005, the structure stands at the entrance of the university campus located on the outskirts of the capital city of South Korea. Free-flowing and open site circulation is an attempt by the architect to bridge the gap between the campus and the contextual community.
Rem Koolhaas, a visionary and an implementer. He is an architect who is not known for his forms but still creates distinct forms. His designs are the generators of solution and ideas dominate his works. South Korea Museum of Art (MoA) is one of his outstanding projects where the building differs visually to the surrounding and yet harmonizes with it. The project embraces the contradictions of two disciplines – architecture and urban design.
HEIGHTS AND DEPTHS – HILLS AND THE CONTOURS
The monolith stands on the side of a small hill on the university campus. The building form is developed as a sliced rectangular box with a small central core supporting the whole structure and the monolithic mass creating an illusion to be floating parallel to the ground. The inclination of the hill and natural topographic slope of the site is both well complemented with the theoretically diagonal cut building mass. A huge chunk of the site is free of concrete footprint which encourages public flow through the site and a lively environment. The site has a pedestrian communication of the community and the University campus.
The central concrete core is the main structural support of the whole built form. Six floors of which three are mounted under the ground, form the functional space of the building. The upper floor plates are cantilevered, hovering over the ground. There are four major functions in this institutional building block. The library section is housed within the central core and the top portion comprises the exhibition areas. Education and operational areas, shops, and offices occupy the rest of the floor space.
The building has a free-flowing circulation in and out. The central core houses the museum entrance lobby and the grand spiral staircase. The lobby bifurcates and spirals inward. This lobby gives access to the different functions in the museum building. Pedestrian continuity is achieved and benefits the easy circulation within the built mass. The educational areas of the lecture hall and the auditorium are placed along the sliced slope of the building block. The slope engages the tiered seating for these areas.
The framework of the built form is a distinct feature here. Hence, the journey is so designed for the visitor to capture the sights of the structural framework of the building in between the exhibits. There is also a glimpse of the natural glory that surrounds the museum, breaking through the materialistic monotony.
The pedestrian continuity evident in the site and internal circulation can also be witnessed in the material implementations of the galleries. Elsewhere the materials vary, including the concrete flooring and the plywood paneling. The special functionality is defined and distinguished by the selection of finishing materials. Translucent paneling is used over fluorescent lighting in the interiors. The museum building façade is translucent made of double-layer polycarbonate panels, revealing the framework of steel trusses beneath.