Kukje Gallery / SO-IL

© Iwan Baan

Architects: SO-IL
Location: Seoul,
Design Team: Florian Idenburg (partner), Jing Liu (partner), Iannis Kandyliaris, Cheon-Kang Park, Sooran Kim
Architect Of Record: Jong Ga Architects
Total Floor Area: 1,260 sqm
Site Area: 800 sqm
Photographs: Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan

After 3 years of design and construction, SO – IL, the architectural studio of Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu, complete a space for Kukje Gallery, in the historic neighborhood of Samcheong-ro in Seoul, South-Korea. The new building greatly expands the gallery’s programming possibilities with the addition of a 16 x 9 x 6mday lit gallery space, a 60 seat auditorium, offices and art storage spaces.

© Iwan Baan

Concept
The architectural proposal resolves aperceived disjunction between the dynamism and boldness of Kukje Gallery’s organization and artist roster, and the fragile historic fabric saturatedby materials and details that surrounds the site. Studies led to a soft and ambiguous building that gently nestles itself into the site. Circulation—entries, vestibules, elevators and stairs—has been pushed out of the orthogonal gallery space to maximize its height and maintain a clear interior volume. Considering the diagrammatic box geometry too rigid within the historic fabric, SO–IL enveloped the building in a mesh veil, creating a nebulous exterior that changes appearance as visitors move through the site.

© Iwan Baan

A custom stainless steel mesh produces a layer of diffusion around the structure, through a combination of reflections, openness, and moiré patterns produced through the interplay of its shadows. The mesh, made out of 510.000 individually welded rings, is strong yet pliable as it wraps around the building’s irregular geometries. The result is an abstract ‘fuzzy’ object that accommodates a multiplicity of readings.

© Iwan Baan

Program
The building contains a 16 x 9 x 6m gallery space, a 60 seat auditorium, project spaces, support and administrative functions for the gallery complex. The ground floor gallery is a single-story, column-free space optimized for large installations, performances and events. To light the art and keep a palpable relationship to the outside, daylight enters through a perimeter skylight. The skylight can be shaded or completely darkened, to create a black-box condition, which allows for light sensitive works or video. The first of two lower levels holds a 60 seat dark stained wood-clad auditorium, administrative areas, catering spaces, restrooms and mechanical spaces. The second basement holds storage and support spaces.

© Iwan Baan

Mesh
Historically, chainmail mesh was used as armor, tightly wrapping curvilinear bodies. Originating in Central Asia – and migrating to East Asia via Europe – chainmail has been globally used because of its unique characteristics. It is rigid, as it is made out of metal, and it has a fabric-like flexibility, due to the way the rings interlink. These combined qualities offer the possibility to create a strong skin that can adapt itself to the contour of any individual body and shape. For Kukje we developed a strategy to transpose this material into an architectural façade system. The effect here is creating a ‘fuzzy’, approximate boundary of the building mass.

© Iwan Baan

The hard-edged box of the art gallery blends into the irregular shape of the site and its context. Through extensive research, conducted together with Front Inc – a façade engineering firm– we created this one-off façade. It is a seamless, custom-made tight fitting ‘dress’ consisting of 510.000 hand welded and grinded stainless steel rings. The mesh was produced with local craftsmen in Anping, China, under tight supervision and quality control by Front / Via LLC and SO – IL.

© Iwan Baan

The technical innovations include Front’s development of a highly flexible perimeter attachment system that allows the mesh to form find for itself and develop an equilibrated pre-stress, eliminating wrinkling and stress concentrations. Equally significant was the development of a computational process for modelling the way the mesh would drape over the building. This allowed Front to predict the number of needed rings at each location and create precise finite element engineering models. From a material and façade engineering standpoint this is a ground-breaking project which will enable an unprecedented exploration of ‘atmospheric’ surfaces.

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Cite: "Kukje Gallery / SO-IL" 25 May 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 24 Apr 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=237697>

3 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +5

    Finally a decent building on AD. This thing is so beautiful and simple. The mesh is sublime. Even that mesh tensioning detail is beautiful.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I always appreciate novelty but for me – personally -, I think this is a bit too much of fashion and seduction. I’d prefer only the stairs to be covered and the else of it to be without the mesh or with the mesh running plainly on the concrete surface, naked and cruel box with some brutal additions on it.
    On the other hand I don’t like glamour but asceticism so it’s my personal opinion not to hurt anyone.

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