Location: Suncheon, Korea
Scope: Gallery
Area: 1,400 sqm
Completion Date: Competition

Suncheon:  A city ‘navigating through a new urban environment, redefining itself as an eco-city, a city associated with its natural environment.   The ambition of this project is articulated as the Old City becoming a ‘Humanities City’, a place of civic gathering, promoting research, preservation, education, the Arts, a new ‘living room’ for the Community, a tourist hub.

The history of a site, the imprint of the city and the place all form the inherent soul of a project.  In this scheme, we tried to develop a language of simplicity: getting down to the essence of the problem.  What does the site want to become to contribute to the ambitions of the project?   How do the site and the buildings manifest themselves within their cultural and historical context?  SSA was conscious that this should be a project rooted in its cultural history and emerge as an object for change from the rapid industrialization of the Old City.  It seemed to us that a building emerging from its landscape, embracing traditional notions of the Korean garden avoiding artificialities, and the use of water being central themes.  

Materiality was also a central theme to SSA scheme, finding our sources in the history of Korean architecture, which in its humblest form adopted thatch as a primary building material.   Architecture is an act of producing something from a place, made from the people in the place.  We resisted the idea of an architecture that would be imported and could relate to any other city of culture.  Local craftsmanship would be tapped, and learned from, and the project should be allowed to be altered and influenced by the skills of local craftsmanship and materiality, connecting place and people by the making of the buildings.  

Most central to SSA study is the emergence of an architecture of relationships rather than form.  SSA wish to create a new type of public architecture, one that would be open to both nature and the public.  Rather than concentrating on one building form dominating the site, SSA aimed create a tension between 3 objects to create a new public space:  the new cultural living room of Suncheon, formed from the natural interval between three volumes existing in continuity, and reconnecting to its surrounding urban fabric by creating distinct and dramatic viewpoints from and towards the old city.    

Rather than forming a building on a new public plaza, SSA placed an important public space at the core of the functions, splitting those into three distinct yet interrelated structures, forming a coherent composition around a new vibrant square.  The three programmatic objects (the Visitor Centre, the Art Centre, and the Yeunja-Ru and Cafeteria) create a dialogue between each, forming an in-between space for Community or Festival use.