This was the first international competition sponsored by the Korean government, which held difficulties in many aspects regarding different standard and acknowledgement for architecture starting from receipt of the prize up till the completion of the building. Large issues were the low design fees (which covered design fee for both Japan and Korean teams based on standard level cost which were on three level rates set up in Korea according to content of work, as well as business trips and translation costs), architectural regulations, contract conformation of architectural design (Atelier Tekuto could not become the legal contractor), and not being able to get involved in the actual field management.
Architect: Atelier Tekuto
Location: Nakdong River Estuary, Busan, Korea
Photographs: Courtesy of Atelier Tekuto
All issues were based on different systems of each country, and since it was the government, changes in budget or operation framework was difficult. Although considerable time and energy was spent, it resulted in having Atelier Tekuto accept all conditions in the end. Atelier Tekuto voluntarily got involved in field management a few times, but was very disappointed that the architecture became largely different from the original competition plan. Even though it was the first attempt for the Korean government, as long as an international competition is executed and a plan is to be selected, Atelier Tekuto believes the government should have prepared adopting systems with an international view over their independent country system.
The most disappointing point for Atelier Tekuto was being compelled to change the wooden pre-stressed structure for the main volume, which was the solution to the ecology architecture theme of the competition. This structure is made by placing tension to the thinned forest lumber to form a large space, but had to be changed to a steel structure due to the Korean architectural regulation (and consideration to execute a verification or inspection was not approved for cost and time). Because of this, the meaning of the main hall’ existence had to be reconsidered. Since the implement plan of all design, structure, and equipment was as a rule done by the Korean eligible legal contractor, re-planning was done in a manner following the plan to implement the framework of the building and the equipment system.
The Nakdong River estuary, the famous stopover site for water birds was the planning site, where a vast marshland spreads to the sea. The center was planned as an observatory and research center for water birds as well as a conservation and exhibition facility for marshland materials. The building consists of a flattened black volume main exhibition hall on top of the first floor management office and research laboratories, floating on the marshland. The black outer bark of the main volume uses burnt cedar, a traditional Japanese technique that is resistant to brine damage.
Although wood could not be used for structure, the same thick wooden board was used on all four surfaces of the interior of the flattened volume, the 2000 square meter main hall’s floor, walls and ceiling, where natural and artificial lighting pours in from the dotted slits of all four surfaces. Wood has less environmental burden upon extraction and its soft and organic quality has a ready made pro-naturalistic image compared to other material, but here the objective was for a space consisting of strength and indescribable sensation transcending the serene image of wood. On both the south and north sides, a vast swamp panorama spreads in the 33 meter wide full opening, and this space is a dynamic platform placed in the midst of the swamp holding the axis line from north to south stretching out to the sea beyond the swamp. This architecture existing solitary in the beautiful nature stands out as the comparatively alien manmade object, and its figure does not have the strength to excel over natural landscape. But in this situation inserting a strong impressive architectural space is not possible in the world of nature, the aim was for a site where one can experience at the same time the manmade architectural space and the grandeur natural landscape spread in front and rediscover values of both raw nature and our artificial world.