Galleria Centercity / UNStudio

© UNStudio. Photographed by Kim Jong-Kwan

Our friends from UNStudio have shared their latest 66,000 square meter Galleria in Cheonan, South Korea, with us. The Galleria attempts to re-define the traditional typology of such a place, as changing societal norms in Asia have led supermarkets to operate as “social and semi-cultural meeting places,” according to Ben van Berkel. As a result, the project blends the functional aspect of a large scale commercial store, while placing emphasis on maintaining a sense of public space for social and cultural aspects.

More information and photos after the break.

The strength of the Galleria lies in the project’s analysis of the users as the architecture is based on observations of current behavioral tendencies in large commercial spaces.   According to UNStudio, particularly in South East Asia, department stores serve a highly social function; people meet, gather, eat, drink and both shop and window shop in these venues. The department store is no longer solely a commercial space, it now offers the architect the opportunity to build upon and expand the social and cultural experience of the visitor. If today we are seeing the museum as a supermarket, then we are also now seeing the department store as a museum.

© UNStudio. Photographed by Kim Jong-Kwan

To add cultural aspects to the building, the Galleria Cheonan also includes an art and cultural center, while a food court and specialty supermarket constitute another distinct destination within the building, which is simultaneously integrated with the overall design strategy.

The interior derives its character from the accumulation of rounded plateaus on long columns. The repetition of curves, enhanced by coiled strip lighting in the ceilings of the platforms, gives the interior its distinctive character. Four stacked program clusters, each encompassing three storeys and containing public plateaus, are linked to the central void. This organisation propels a fluent upstream flow of people through the building, from the ground floor atrium to the roof terrace. As the plateaus are positioned in a rotational manner in space, they enable the central space to encompass way finding, vertical circulation, orientation and act as main attractor of the department store. The spatial and visual connections within the space are designed to generate a lively and stimulating environment, in which the user is central.

© UNStudio. Photographed by Christian Richters

From the exterior, the Galleria boasts a dynamic double layered facade intended to stimulate use experience.  The skin is articulated in a trompe l’oeuil pattern of vertical mullions making the building vertually scale-less as the structure provides no hint as to how many stories it contains. On the inside, this play with scale and dimension is continued in a way that is at least as radical as the outside. Upon entering, the department store is revealed as a layered and varied space which encourages investigation and unfolds  as you move through and up the building.  ”The most interesting thing to me about the effect of the Galleria Cheonan is that, because of the organisation of the atrium and the moiré treatment of the facade, Illusions are created which result in the seeming alteration of scales and the creation of double images. No image is permanent in this building,” added van Berkel.

© UNStudio. Photographed by Christian Richters

The media facade will be the largest illuminated surface of its kind.  The strategy for the building enclosure consists of creating an optical illusion. During the day the building has a monochrome reflective appearance, whilst at night soft colours are used to generate waves of coloured light across the large scale illuminated surface. The lighting design was developed in parallel with the architecture and capitalises on the double layered facade structure. Computer generated animations specially designed by UNStudio are incorporated into the lighting design and refer to themes related to the department store, such as fashion, events, art and public life.

Double Layer Facade © UNStudio
Facade Concept © UNStudio

Project Information:

Galleria Centercity, Cheonan, South-Korea

Client: Hanwha Galleria Co. LTD

ARCHITECT: UNStudio, Amsterdam

Design team: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Ger Gijzen, Marc Herschel and Marianthi Tatari, Sander Versluis, Albert Gnodde, Jorg Lonkwitz, Tom Minderhoud, Lee Jae-young, Woo Jun-seung, Constantin Boincean, Yu-chen Lin

Interior: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Ger Gijzen, Cristina Bolis and Veronica Baraldi, Lee Jae-young, Felix Lohrmann, Kirsten Hollmann, Albert Gnodde, Martijn Prins, Joerg Lonkwitz, Malaica Cimenti, Florian Licht, William de Boer, Eelco Grootjes, Alexia Koch


Design team: Kim Tai-jip, Han Ki-young, Nam Myung-kwan, Yoon Chang-bae, Park Seong-beom, Kwon Na-young, Nam Young-ho

Interior: Lee Seung-youn, No Se-hyo, Ryu Hee-won, Na Min-hee

CONSULTANTS: Façade Consultant: KBM Co. LTD; Light Designer: a.g. Licht, Bonn, Germany; Content Programmer: Lightlife, Berlin/Cologne, Germany; Way-finding Designer: Geerdes Ontwerpen, Delft, Netherlands; Visuals: UNStudio, Amsterdam and rendertaxi, Aachen; Structural Engineer: Kopeg Engineering; Electrical Engineer: Ilshin E&C; Mechanical Engineer: Sahmwon MEC; Civil Engineer: CG E&C

CONTRACTORS: Main Contractor: Hanwha E&C Co. LTD; Façade contractor ILJIN UNISCO, Korea; Interior Joong Il, Won Intertech, Artifort, Gawon, Creid, Hanmi, Sangwon S&D, and Daehye

PROJECT DETAILS: Location: 521-3 Buldang-dong, Seobuk-gu, Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do, Korea

Program: Department Store with parking garage, supermarket and food court, restaurants, kids’ café, VIP lounge, art center and cultural center and roof top terraces

Site Area: 11,235m2

Building Area: 7090 m2

Gross Floor Area: 110,530.73m2

Building Coverage: 63.30%

Floors: 6 below grade, 10 above grade

Structure: Steel-concrete composite columns, floor: steel structure with concrete slab.

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About this author
Cite: Karen Cilento. "Galleria Centercity / UNStudio" 05 Apr 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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