Seoul-based architectural firms, PWFERRETTO + UTOP, were recently selected winners of a competition commissioning a new pottery museum in the Goheung region of South Korea. The winning entry extends the museum experience throughout the 97,000 square meter site and is organized around four concepts, “genius loci, traditional village, landmark roof and nature journey.”
The conceptual driver for the new Dongbong Museum is to create a harmonious balance between museum and context, where building and nature don’t compete or dominate but work together. The aim was not to create an object-like building but integrate a series of smaller buildings into the existing fabric, working with the existing character of the site.
Programs are distributed into a series of houses, scattered onto the landscape akin to traditional Korean Villages, considering orientation, views and topography. The position of each mass creates two spacial phenomena: firstly, the in-between spaces become the new public space of the museum accommodating facilities such as the lobby, circulation and viewing platform; secondly, these spaces act as openings to the surrounding environment, engaging visitors with the amazing natural beauty.
The cluster of “houses” unify into a single museum entity by a roof system that both encloses the spaces and gives a sense of directionality to the visitors. This new roof-scape becomes the landmark gesture, acting as a gate to arriving visitors.
The roof structure is a hybrid system consisting of steel trusses and girders, fixed to a concrete structural wall and clad internally with nonstructural timber members. The external material is a standing seam zinc finish. The annex building is located at upper part of the site, situated in close proximity to the staff areas of the museum. It operates as an independent building but is connected both physically and also in the architectural language of the roof to the main museum, without being too prominent.
The materiality of the building is inspired from the material process of making traditional pottery (i.e. earth, fire, water.) All elements are translated into related construction materials: Earth is cast-texturized concrete contributing to the thermal mass of the building; Fire is represented in the exposed timber structure, Water is incorporated in several water features situated around the building.
The site has a unique asset; if you stand anywhere on site you are surrounded by 360 degrees of nature, leaving little to no evidence of architecture or manmade objects. The concept stays true to the site’s DNA, preserving the existing lake, indigenous forests and some agricultural crops. “Building” and “Nature” work together to create interactions in which visitors are encouraged to explore and thereby feel a sense of enlightenment from their presence. Thus, a series of seven pavilions weave in and throughout the main museum complex, extending the “museum experience” to the outer landscapes of the site. These pavilions house an information center, a tea ceremony space, a working kiln, an area of broken plates as well as a 20m high observatory.