Seoul, Herzog & de Meuron signs new Schaulager

In Seoul, the project for a new art storage space is progressing. On December 6, 2023, the Herzog & de Meuron agency won the competition “Seoripul Open Art Storage”. Supervised by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, this international competition included seven architectural firms, including Foster+Partners, MVRDV and 3XN.

If the project is generating so much interest, it is because it is more than just a storage space. The site will be intended for the conservation of works from three major museum institutions (the Seoul Art Museum, the Seoul Craft Art Museum and the Seoul History Museum), but will also be able to accommodate visitors. The architects are planning the development of an auditorium, a library, a restaurant and a café.

This is not the first time that the Swiss architecture agency has designed an open warehouse model: this project is directly inspired by the Schaulager in Basel, a contemporary art warehouse open since 2003. The works take up much less space there. space than in a museum, they benefit from optimal conservation conditions but are especially visible to art professionals. The Seoripul Open Art Storage project aims to be more accessible, since it will be open to all residents of Seoul and visitors from around the world.

During the presentation of his project, Jacques Herzog recalls that“an open warehouse is not a museum, nor a shopping center, nor an entertainment palace where massive movements of people take place. It is a different type of institution and therefore also requires a different type of architecture”. According to him, “these are places that should be enigmatic, mysterious and arouse curiosity”. And it is indeed a visually striking place that the agency plans to build: the building will have a glass pyramid base, almost entirely hidden from the outside by mineral blocks.

The imposing building will be erected on a 5,800 m² site, located on the borders of Seoripul Park, to the south of the city. The architectural ensemble plans to be surrounded by vegetation, on the principle of the traditional Korean garden. The collections will be distributed over several floors (levels 2 to 5) organized by materials and not by origin, which will allow them to benefit from the required climatic conditions. The architects aim to achieve carbon neutrality by carefully assessing emissions and equipping the building with photovoltaic panels, a geothermal heat pump and a rainwater recovery system.

The construction dates for this ambitious project have not yet been communicated. This is not the first installation signed by Herzog & de Meuron in Seoul, the agency signed the design of the SongEun Art and Cultural Foundation, a contemporary art center created in 2021.

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