©MORPHtopia 2020

LOCATION      Seoul, South Korea
PROGRAM      Child & Youth Art Education Center and Comprehensive Sports Center
YEAR              2018
CLIENT           Seoul Metropolitan Government
STATUS          Competition

The AECSC (Arts Education & Comprehensive Sports Centers) are located in an interesting confluence of different urban landscapes: high density housing towers on the south and west side of the plot are the counterpoint of the two to three single houses of the north and east side. Such a variation is emphasized by the sloped topography, which goes up in north-to-south direction. The height difference between the top and the bottom of the plot is around 12.8m. Such an urban condition creates a dense frame background protection towards north by the tangled-mess-towers and invites to open the design towards the south to face a great panorama view of the city, only framed by the Bukhansan National Park hills and Ohdong Neighborhood Park.

In order to reinforce the opening to the south, the most upper part of the plot is horizontally extended to create the Urban Plateau. A new public plaza that directly connects and enlarges the two small parks in the other side of Samyang Ro 27 Gil. This platform is the first operation for shaping a continuous landscape developed in the north-south direction. A folding topography models the new profile of the terrain in direct relation with the surrounding by accommodating a mixture of public spaces and public functions.

Although the AECSC are in essence two buildings: the Arts Education Center and the Comprehensive Sports Center, a shared design logic structures each building in three parts:
1.The already explained morphed landscape as common free ground.
2.The underground functions, where the parking and serving functions are allocated.
3.The elevated Objects as containers of the main functions.

The Arts Education lifted up element, or so-called Object 1, is a 3 storeys body elevated 12m from the Urban Plateau. The Performing and Education Areas appear in the first two floors (Floor Plans 4 and 5), while the Operations Area is in the most upper level (Floor Plan 6). The envelope folds to the interior through a big void producing a crossing hole in the object. It runs diagonally through the floors. This elevated courtyard not only provides natural light and ventilation to all the interior spaces, but also is a crucial element for the structure of the Object. A viewport terrace crowns the upper part of the elevated courtyard. Under the Object 1 appears the Auditorium as part of the Urban Plateau. Depending on the necessities of each event/performance, the Auditorium can be enclosed in Black Box modus, or it can be fully opened to the exterior. A series of telescopic walls, which are located in the bottom part of the Object 1, extends or compress the Auditorium to the public space and vice versa offering a wide new range of events. The main entrance is right under the Urban Plateau and accessible from the slopped street running on the east side (Level 2). The hall and café extend through mobile glass panels to the Urban Terrace, which is also connected to the upper Urban Plateau. Private services and mechanical rooms also appears in this level, but in a not so exposed way.
The bottom Level 1 allocates more Mechanical rooms and a garage for motorbikes and 31 cars.
The Comprehensive Sports Center also follows a similar logic: the elevated Object 2 is a big empty space with a max. free height of 6,5m, where many kinds of sport can be practiced. The east side allocated the shop, weight room and office in two storeys. The Ojbect 2 flies over the entrance plaza and the swimming pool. On the ground level, the continuous landscape folds into a concave shape and houses the swimming pool hall is placed. Zenithal lighting is coming through a glass ring that close the gap to the flying Object 2. The mechanical room is underground.


The shell of the elevated Objects is a 3D geodesic structure made of slender interwoven steel components (triangles, rhomboids and quads). A series of longitudinal structural bands change their width for accommodating the openings in-between. Three stories rest both on the exterior and void structure, allowing free-of-columns interior spaces.

Object 1 (Arts Education Center) is supported by three elements forming a portico:
1.the core of vertical circulation -composed by one person elevator, one freight elevator and two escape stairs)-, that sticks into the Object.
2.The Ring. A massive concrete volume that emerges from the Urban Plateau and wraps the core. It produces bigger support area for the Object 1
3.The V-column made of steel is situated on the other side and neutralizes all the cantilevered forces.
Object 2 (Sports Center) is supported by a series of steel diagonals that transfer the forces to the perimeter bearing walls.

The bottom part consists of a continuous slab that shapes the new urban landscape and public spaces. It produces a free ground conditions where the entire site is usable and open to everybody. An entry plaza welcomes to the visitors of Sport Center. An urban plateau offers panorama views to the visitors of the Arts Education Center. Mixed-use simultaneities happen below such slab, where parking, service and technical functions are allocated and almost carved out of the terrain. Reinforced concrete walls and floor define the structure and spaces of the underground program.
Reinforced concrete walls and floor define the structure and spaces of the underground program.

The strong architectural language of the façade is defined by a poles apart dialogue: massive vs. opening, solid vs. void, opaque vs. transparent. The massive body of the Objects is carefully dissected by changing width stripes. The result is an irregular rhomboid pattern of multiple sizes that flows along the envelope. The Objects are solid elements with natural and biological associations placed in a high density urban context. In a way stranger to their environment. The simplicity of the white solid cladding made of Glass Fiber Reinforced Polyester (GFRP) contrasts with the shiny ETFE membranes and reflections of the triangulated glazing. Light is filtered in different degrees through such surfaces depending on the interior conditions.