Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

SAC, Seoul Art Complex, Pyeongchang-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Year: 2017
Main Use: Culture, Exhibition, Community Centre
Site Area: 7,347 sqm
Bldg. Area: 1,708 sqm (Mechanical Parking System: 320 sqm)
GFA: 4,147 sqm (Mechanical Parking System: 960 sqm)
Storeys: 3

Definition of the community space: Public domain and public realm.

Within public buildings circulation areas form and define a true community space. All other specified and destined areas, rooms and spaces are exclusive to the ones taking part in the activities in there at the time. The circulation area can be seen as the only adaptive, open and integrating space to welcome guests and visitors throughout any time, if the use is defined beyond the mere practical definition. Circulation zones can offer space for individuals and groups to spend time regardless of activities, services and events offered and held in those specified rooms. They can further extend the specified areas into a truly open and public realm, creating an interactive and multifunctional hybrid between "inside" and "outside".

By its re-definition, circulation zones become the community space. Specified areas become pockets inside it, undefined extending into the public realm and/or merging with other zones.

The circulation area is the least defined and unspecific space in a building. Therefore it can transform to the most important place inside a building, as it can host any physical or digital exchange in any form as it is not designed to one specific need or use, so it does not exclude any form of use. The circulation area in its definition translates best to the use of mobile information technology, as it is an in-between space, neither nor. The circulation area holds the potential to become the central spine of any public, institutional or commercial building, whereas more defined spaces could form silent capsules and retreats around it, designed for specific needs, like private Chatrooms.

The "empty" space in-between two other spaces in now filled with content.

The public stair/ramp is the hybrid between a public space and public furniture. Public stairs can transform to meeting places, eating places, exhibition spaces, speaker corners, auditoriums, mobile offices, e-commerce trading place, Chatroom, entertainment area, living room. We should move as much area as possible out from the specified spaces into the circulation zones to make our buildings more adaptable, more unspecific, more efficient and by doing so, more communal. Public spaces historically represent exchange. Circulation areas are the most public spaces in any building.

Vertical circulation = short link. Vertical circulation is equivalent to the online short link, the fastest connection between two points. The path is not visible, only defined by entry and exit point.




Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

Spatial Concept

The Art Complex is designed as a community hub that shelters public spaces and fills them with life throughout the day. It aspires to create an open door concept that encourages exchange. The spaces are used as public living rooms in which the building becomes an extension of the everyday life. People can spend time within the complex without having necessarily to enter into the exhibitions, library or events, making the Art Complex a true public place of open cultural meeting point for the community.

Given the compact programmatic needs of the art complex, the design experiments the function of paths as an experiential connection to a place but also as an intellectual connection to the mind.




Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

Section 1



Circulation spaces have been thought of as a new kind of cultural street dedicated for community use throughout the day with cafes and extended cultural activities that can be injected between functional programs. This active cultural street is envisaged to form a continuous upward movement from ground level towards the highest point of the site, leading visitors to the sculpture garden on roof level. The ramp not only connects key functional programs of the building from one end to the other, but also considers public connectivity to surrounding outdoor landscaped and workshop areas. The ramp takes advantage of the topography and transforms into an additional auditorium in the public space that physically and visually links the two main levels of the facility.




Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

Section 2



The open door concept efficiently eliminates circulation spaces from being enclosed pass through corridors into multi-functional spaces for community use. Functional areas are connected by the ramp, which now are injected with social life, and new qualities that integrate different groups of people to meet and share, similarly to how city blocks are connected by streets and plazas where human exchanges happen naturally in these public spaces. Functional programs such as exhibition, learning, cafes and community areas are ambiguously defined to create a sense of openness and publicness such that visitors can wander freely. Exhibitions, screenings, theatre performances, lectures, open workshops and community activities can be extended into the ramp, forming an open platform for intellectual exchange of minds and human interactions at varying degree. Functions that required privacy and sound control are defined rooms and spaces, cladded with translucent poly-carbonate to allow light and visibility throughout the building.


Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

Building Concept

The project rethinks the functions of an art complex and core meaning for its community. The site has a 20 meter height difference from one end to the other. Due to the natural topography of the site, the building is placed at an inclined plane with the aim to provide connectivity at varying datum between the building and the adjacent three sites.

The sloping building stretches along the site, connecting the two main levels of 6 to 7.5 meter high spaces with a continuous ramp that allows people of all ages to move through the site at different levels and speed as desire. The path is a direct response to universal design and the need of the community, while providing visibility through the entire Art Complex and experiential linkages to entry points of surrounding sites.




Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

By placing the continuous ramp on one side of the building, the functional programs can be flexibly connected or divided within large footprints. The functions are demarcated by slight shifts in elevational change without the use of separation walls. Hence, spaces can be interconnected with activities in each space being mutually visible and exchangeable. 

The ramp is designed based on regulatory wheelchair accessibility, providing a maximum slope of 1:12 and a minimum landing of 1.5 meters length every 0.75m height.



Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex Elevation South




The Seoul Art Complex is located with the mountain to the back and the river in the front. The building follows the topography and slopes slightly upward from southeast to northeast orientation of the site. The building extends horizontally and aims to provide connectivity to the surrounding three sites with the main entrance orientated toward the central crossing, creating a subtle landmark and creating a strong, but humble identity for the complex and the community. A gravel covered forecourt with a thin sheet of water plate on the ground floor defines the open public space of the Art Complex, the sheet of water seamlessly connects and draws visitors into the building while separates vehicular access for drop-off and delivery. The Art Complex connects to the higher levels and neighborhood behind it with the accessible public sculpture roof garden with herb and flower fields.




Cheungvogl Architects Hong Kong Seoul Art Complex

Landscaped areas and terraced platforms within the neighboring sites are designed to provide resting places, outdoor activities, workshops and performances with direct linkages to the art complex at different levels and extending the engaging gesture within the community. The landscaping generally remains natural and untouched to provide a green buffer between the Art Complex and the residential neighborhood.




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