The proposal for the Sucheon Art Platform consists of two buildings designed in unison, respectively hosting the Art and Visitor Center, and the new Yeonja-Ru.
The proposal maintains and enhances the existing features of the site – resulting from its complex and multi-layered history – on an urbanistic level; while upgrading these very features with a further layer on the level of the building design itself. This parallel endeavour of engaging with and adding to the competition site generates a specific interlacing of old and new.
The two architectural bodies are thus aligned according to the trails of the Suncheon Wall. The existing roads crossing the site are kept, although now for pedestrian use only, and the blocks of former buildings are turned into green areas contained into these blocks’ very perimeters.
The parking lot has been placed partially underground (95 spaces, connected to the main building through a staircase), yet fifteen spaces are aboveground, along with additional bike spaces.
The existing underground shopping center, as well as its accesses, is left untouched.
Along the trail of the Suncheon Wall, an art installation is placed: a series of lampposts slowly rotating clockwise and thus providing, as it were, a visual evidence of the historical passing of time, which this proposal aims at helping shape.
On these grounds, the Art and Visitor Center the new Yeonja-Ru introduce a new language. The architectural bodies appear as somehow ‘landed’ on the site, prefiguring hitherto inexistent influences and solutions. Although aesthetically autonomous, they do respond to the site.
The Art and Visitor Center architecturally embodies a gate to the city. The building is designed departing from a close analysis of the program and of the distribution and interrelation between the required functions. The design starts from a square and pie chart-like cuts it into three slices respectively dedicated to education, art, and the visitor center. These areas are further placed into three separate, stacked volumes, the building finally appearing as a cube from which partial volumes have been subducted according to the original slices, as to create three separate indoor volumes and two outdoor terraces. The first volume from the top also encompasses the storage and administration room, while the foyer is included in the middle one.
The quality of the indoor spaces relies on an open plan organization, with all interior elements (and also the restrooms) treated as enclosed pieces of furniture. These articulate the space minimizing visual barriers.
The subtraction of volumes from the top is symmetrically completed by a subtraction operated from the bottom, rendering the building an actual gate. The three volumes are connected by elevators and staircases placed at the outer edges of the overlaps within triangular forms. These cores are crucial structural elements, holding the entire building, which allows avoiding the use of columns. All spaces are connected through a big elevator (first core) for both visitors and goods, placed on the southeast corner of the building. Moreover, circulation happens through triangular staircases (second and third core) functioning also as a fire escape exit. Staff can gain separate access to the administration, storage and visitor center through a second elevator (fourth core), placed on the northwest corner of the building. The last core is designed for technical equipment. Access to the building is ensured by a main escalator, connecting the street level to the foyer on the second floor. The outdoor terraces gain in comfort and quality thanks to their orientation towards the opposite side of noisy Jonang-Ro.
Hence, the Art and Visitor Center thus reinterprets the concept of a city gate allowing to freely moving through and underneath the building with a maximum of public space on the ground floor. Moreover, it offers generous outdoor terraces on the further floors, where visitors and the community can gather and multifaceted views of the city can be gained.
The structure of the building is made of concrete and steel. As already mentioned, the five concrete triangular cores of the building are the only vertical support. They are holding concrete Vierendeel beams. Their height goes from floor to ceiling, and they in turn support a secondary structure of steel beams with circular openings holding the concrete slab of the floor. The choice of the outside materials reflects the geometrical operations of subtraction. Looking at the facades, the surfaces resulting from subtraction appear in glass, whereas the rest of the building is kept in full concrete. Since concrete, given its material properties, engenders homogeneous forms, it is used here to best materialize the initial idea, conveying it in the most abstract and consistent way.
The Art and Visitor Center thus relies on the tension between the heaviness of its materials and its floating structure. This tension equally grounds the new Yeonja-Ru, recalling the programs and meanings of the old Yeonja-Ru. The pavilion further reproduces the gate function of the main building, although bearing a more enclosed, silent character. It is divided into a bar and a belvedere. In the latter, glass sliding panels ensure an outdoor feeling and a connection to the riverside bank.
Overall, the proposal for the Suncheon Art Platform seeks to ensure a maximum of open public space on the given site, enhancing encounters and exchange between the community and the visitors. The Art Center and the Visitor Center are subsumed in one single building, developed departing from the required functions of the project, and yet conspicuously providing an iconic entrance gate to the city. On the urban regeneration site, and in combination with the Yeonja-Ru, the main building audaciously interlaces old and new, assessing the old city of Suncheon’s potential of revival.