NADAAA interprets unique building typology as civic pavilion and landscape threshold
In South Korea, the majority of housing is developed by one of five corporate families. Apartment buildings are not designed as individual structures but as multiples, such that a new housing project may be conceived as 20 or 30 towers forming an entire neighbourhood. Thus, the study, design and sales of housing have developed into a discipline serving a growing middle class with amenities and technologies that are significantly sophisticated.
The client wished to invest in a centre that not only contains sales offices with full-scale construction model units, but also a variety of public amenities that are purposed for the use of the community, including: art galleries, restaurants, cafés, auditoria and other functions that can become part of the public realm.
Distinguishing their brand among other model home galleries, they wished to create an iconic spectacle within the urban landscape, evoking a status more commonly held by public institutions such as museums or libraries. From an architectural perspective, a model home gallery balances two forces; the first, a public ground that activates the street; the second an economical black box above that houses the model homes.
In concept, this building, an evocatively rendered black box perched atop of a dynamic glass plinth, responds to both its physical setting and the client’s desire to evince a brand that is inspired by nature. Located at a significant vehicular intersection to the northeast, the transparent plinth displays the spectacle of the activities within, while creating a threshold to the park to the southwest. Continuity of the ground plane is established through the extension of the city’s granite sidewalk into the building.
The reading of this public space gains expression through an undulating ceiling that demarcates various programmatic and infrastructural logics of the amenities. The auditorium not only hosts closed events – plays, cinema, and symposia – but also more open events. Flexibility of programmatic use is achieved through vertical layers: a diaphanous metal curtain, a plywood sheathing, and a large sliding door that produces a large proscenium. The voluminous and elusive black box atop is established as an iconic landmark in a developing part of the city.
Requiring very few openings, the interior is in dialogue with the exterior world only through the 'slit-windows' encrypted within the horizontal louvers, further softening the figure of the volume. The building base ascends and descends according to the programmatic logic of the public amenities and its roof’s folds harvest rainwater that recharges the adjacent pond. From a distance, the overall image evokes an echo of the unique skyline of Seoul, a syncopated composition of staggered buildings and mountains.