Daniel Valle Architects’ design for an art centre in Sucheon, South Korea, is a doughnut shaped cultural centre set in 2000m2 of land. The ‘Suncheon Art Platform’ was designed by DVA as part of the Suncheon International Architecture Competition earlier this year which asked for the creation of a cultural hub for the Suncheon Bay region.
Suncheon Bay is famous for its natural sceneries. Its privileged location at the junction of the Dong and Isa streams is home to some of the widest reed beds in South Korea. Among the world’s wetlands, Suncheon Bay is famous for attracting the largest number of rare birds. This makes the bay an epicentre for tourism for South Korea.
DVA’s design is inspired by the site’s biodiversity. Their proposal for the Suncheon Art Platform competition is an urban reinterpretation of the natural sceneries of Suncheon Bay. “We wish to connect the collective memory of the bay with a new cultural and urban life in the city center of Suncheon”, they explain, “where Culture and Nature become the raw materials to fabricate a new creative platform for citizens to enjoy and express themselves.”
The Suncheon Art Platform proposes a fresh dialogue between architecture and public space. While architecture remains iconic and differentiated from buildings in the city, the public space tries to embrace all cultural activities under one unifying concept.
The main building is circular. It’s shape is inspired by the Suncheon Bay’s circular geometries, and it’s design facilitates a continuous public platform for culture. The inclination of the surfaces qualifies the character of the public space and the potential artistic activities to be performed within it.
“It is the intention of the design proposal to blur the dichotomy between art performed inside a cultural institution and art performed publicly”, says Daniel Valle Architects. The topography of the site also allows for a seamless continuation of culture from the interior of the Art Center (the building with its exhibition spaces) and the exterior plaza. A fun feature is the design of the so called Cultural Plaza, which allows citizens to reach the roof of the main cultural building without apparent efforts.
The city is an artificial space. Streets, buildings, underground tunnels, infrastructure above and below ground, vehicles, wifi networks, street lighting and many other urban elements define the city as man made. Like cities, culture too is also artificial. Culture is the manipulation and interpretation of the natural world.
“We believe a public space charged with culture must be artificial and clearly man-made”, explain DVA. “Therefore, the pavement of the open spaces is a combination of various artificial materials such as wood decks, concrete, rubber, artificial flower gardens or compacted soil.”
On the other hand, we have nature, which DVA see as fundamental for citizens. “There is a need for green spaces in the city”, say the architects. The proposal for the Suncheon Art Platform wishes to insert nature in the heart of the center, both at a physical but also at a conceptual level. In fact, we see an interesting reversal of roles. Traditionally, natural elements are located at the exterior of buildings, whilst the building themselves retain the artificial qualities inherent in man made structures. DVA turn this concept inside out. They place most of their natural elements within the main building and propose and artificial looking Cultural Plaza as landscape.
The latter extends throughout the site and defines multiple situations through the use of choreographed topography. The upper levels of the plaza are designed to both maximise the views towards the river and also to make the most of the fresh breeze. The lower areas are open to collective configuration and artistic expression.
The design envisioned by DVA promotes active citizen participation. “We wish citizens to express their artistic talents by creating a flexible urban furniture system where everyone can configure at any time the way you wish to seat and communicate with others”, say the architects. Several hundred, movable colorful chairs are dotted around the Cultural Plaza. Every evening, the area leaves the traces of the daytime activities of its users. Every morning, new configurations are possible. “This dynamism and changeability”, explain DVA, “is fundamental for citizens to participate and engage.”
The Art Center’s main building is located in the east side of the plot towards Jungang-ro road. This position, together with the fact that the building is elevated, projects a significant image to visitors coming from the north and south of Jungang-ro road. From Jungang-ro road there is a smooth access to the build as well as to the Cultural Plaza it sits in.
The west side of the plot houses underground parking (and a few surface parking spaces). The vehicle access is from Yeongdong-ro, to eliminate any potential conflict with the main pedestrian paths.
On the south part of the plot the surface of the plaza unfolds in various directions to create space for the cafeteria and the Yeongja-ru, as well as to create a connection to the water’s edge. Above the cafeteria’s roof, citizens can sit: contemplating the stream from a privileges position. The Yeongja-ru is located in the south-east corner of the plot so that it is easily visible from all directions.
About the Architects:
Daniel Valle Architects (DVA) are a Madrid based group of architects and urban planners operating in the fields of architecture, interior, communication and urban design with a branch office in Seoul allowing an international practice between Asia and Europe. Daniel Valle Architects was founded in Madrid in 2003 by architect Daniel Valle.
DVA started from the very beginning to cultivate a culture of work orientated to provide the best solutions to our clients. Our aim is not only to fulfill the given requirements but to add value to all stakeholders involve in the project.
The company we wish to be is a reflection of what the world is today… multicultural and interconnected.
DVA have been working for the last ten years in more than thirty different projects distributed in two continents, nine countries, fifteen cities, and seven different languages. Currently the office is participating in various types of design and construction collaborations distributed along three different areas of the world such as South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union. The EU became the early “playground” for DVA in the early 2000 when the office started to operate from Madrid office. Later the work shifted to Asia with the branch office of Seoul acting as the magnet of latest work. Between the years 2009 and 2011 the office was involved also in various projects in the Middle East.
DVA has gained building experience in countries like Spain, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates allowing us to offer our clients the expertise and “know how” to design and build in those areas and others still to explore. The fields of expertise cover the entire process of design and construction including conceptual design, preliminary design, construction documents, tendering, construction supervision and commissioning and handover. DVA provides services to obtain sustainable certifications (LEED, Estidama or CTE) for our building and master plan.