Sejong Museum Gardens

Location: Sejong, South Korea
Status: Competition Winning Entry
Date: 2016
 

Office OU has been announced as the winner of South Korea's International Competition for the National Museum Complex Master Plan of the New Administrative City (Sejong City). Chosen as the winning design among a field of 81 entries from 26 countries around the world, Office OU's Sejong Museum Gardens will play a crucial role in shaping the cultural landscape of South Korea's new metropolis. The competition entry was made in collaboration with Junglim Architecture as the local architect of record.

Sejong City, the new administrative city of South Korea, shifts many of the national government's functions south from Seoul. Already home to 36 government agencies and over 300,000 residents,

Sejong City's growing political and administrative importance will be complemented by what the competition promoters hailed as a “world-class cultural complex that will be on par with Berlin's Museuminsel, Vienna's Museumsquartier, and Washington D.C's Smithsonian museums.” Situated in the heart of the nascent city along the bank of the Geum River, Sejong’s National Museum Complex will be a major cultural center for all of Korea, hosting a diverse range of new institutions. Museums devoted to Architecture and the City, Design, Digital Heritage, Natural History, and Korea's Archival Traditions will join Office OU's National Children's Museum, along with a number of smaller institutions. In total, nearly a dozen museums—an exact number has yet to be set—will be spread throughout the site.

PL1 - Masterplan.jpg
A - Central Operations Center
B - National Children's Museum
C - Additional Museums
D - Natural History Museum
E - National Archives Museum
F - National Digital Heritage Museum
G - National Design Museum
H - National Architecture and City Museum
I - Central Plaza
K - Terracing Rice Paddies
L - Wetlands
M - Che Creek Ecological Corridor
N - Mountain and Forest Landscape

Office OU's master plan for the 190,000 m² site combines the remarkable and diverse surrounding landscape (rice paddies, wetlands, forests, riverbanks, urban fabric), with the basic logic of Korea’s Joeseon Dynasty palace architecture. Like the palace, Sejong Museum Gardens uses a consistent architectural language throughout, but differentiates itself through changes in scale, and in response to the natural topography. Its architecture does not strive to be iconic in itself, but instead acts as a frame or vessel for landscape, drawing it into a set of courtyards and forecourts. Each museum's identity is reinforced by thematic links to an associated landscape. 

For example, the productive orchard landscape that characterizes the Children's Museum invites kids to play and explore the space. The Archives Museum will be set within a mountainous topography, fostering an appropriate sense of seclusion and security. The Architecture Museum is defined by hard landscaping with a distinctly urban feel, relating to the city’s developing retail and arts district across the Che Creek. In naming the project Sejong Museum Gardens, the garden is recognized as a vital link between culture and nature. Our hope is that the project can give the people of Sejong—and South Korea—a place to understand and nurture this relationship.

Depiction of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces, circa 1830.

Depiction of Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces, circa 1830.

Materials and landscape combine to form unique identities for each museum

Materials and landscape combine to form unique identities for each museum

Architectural design - basic formal guidelines

Architectural design - basic formal guidelines

Architecture Museum forecourt

Architecture Museum forecourt

Design Museum forecourt

Design Museum forecourt

Digital Heritage Museum forecourt

Digital Heritage Museum forecourt

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Additional Museums

Additional Museums

Children's Museum Approach

Children's Museum Approach

Children's Museum Forecourt in winter

Children's Museum Forecourt in winter

Children's Museum stair down to exhibition areas

Children's Museum stair down to exhibition areas

Children's Museum exhibition courtyard

Children's Museum exhibition courtyard

Children's Museum terrace

Children's Museum terrace

The competition jury praised the project’s “exquisite control of space,” as well as “the spatial relationship between nature and built form, which is successfully anchored in human scale.” Particular acclaim was also reserved for “the interpretation of nature as an architectural element,” and the unorthodox decision to emphasize landscape over built form. The competition jury included South Korea's Sungkwan Lee of Seoul National University, Yongmi Kim of Geumseong Architects & Engineers, Junsung Kim of Konkuk University and Architecture Studio hANd, and Sunghong Kim of the University of Seoul, as well as Japan's Nobuaki Furuya of Waseda University and Studio Nasca, and Christopher Sharples of SHoP Architects from the United States.

 

Working in partnership with South Korea's acclaimed Junglim Architecture, Office OU will design the first three buildings of the National Museum Complex: The National Children's Museum, the Museum Complex's Central Storehouse and Central Operations Centre.

The first phase of the project, comprised of 5 museums, is set to be completed by 2023.

K-House

Location: Ancaster, Ontario
Status: Built
Date: 2015
 

To reconcile the client’s needs for a home that is both familiarly comfortable yet sustainable, this house develops sustainable living practices within accepted notions of domestic comfort. The house explores how we can harness our understanding of culturally-ingrained lifestyles in order to affect change, reforming perceptions of suburban comfort from within, and making the adoption of widespread lifestyle changes as seamless as possible.

The house imbues every element of the traditional house with new opportunities, from its spatial layout to the construction of its walls. The well-beloved massing of the local split-level home (part bungalow and part multi-story house) is augmented to promote connection to nature, spatial efficiency and accessibility. The house, while true to its beloved domesticity, becomes an active agent of change within its context. It interacts with the natural flows of the site, sun, water, wildlife and flora, framing the changing character of its setting, making seasonality integral to the experience of the home. The traditional walls of the house are also no longer simply spatial dividers, but highly efficient yet breathable straw by-products of local farming practices. The house uses the beloved image of the suburban home to unsuspectingly become the first electrically net-zero straw house in Hamilton (thanks to 36 solar panels located on the roof), rethinking the traditional spaces and features of the suburban home to create opportunities for sustainable mechanisms (like proper cross-ventilation and high-efficiency fireplaces to drastically reduce heating and cooling loads).

The house is composed of 16” thick prefabricated strawbale walls clad in magboard, plaster and shou-sugi-ban (charred eastern white cedar to replace suburban vinyl siding, insuring longevity and protecting against rot), creating a breathable yet optimally insulated building envelope (R-40). To replicate the versatility of traditional construction methods and replace straw construction’s mandatory large overhangs with recessed gutters, a different type of breathable wall was developed. While most straw construction clads strawbales directly with plaster, the house’s strawbales are shielded by magboard, covered in a rainscreen that acts as air gap, and then clad in plaster or wood. The plaster was additionally coated with a silicate paint rendering it hydrophobic. While the plaster invariably gets exposed to water, it is able to fully exhaust absorbed moisture thanks to the continuous air gap and the hygroscopic properties of the plaster.

The house is located right on the Dundas conservation area and the landscape design, composed of native and non-invasive species, cradles the house as if embedded within the conservation area itself. The planting scheme uses native species from the conservation area, including ferns, river birches, sedges and pawpaws.A system of channels, concrete dams, swales, and porous pavers manages stormwater from on-site and uphill neighbouring properties, replenishing the aquifer, thereby reducing strain on the municipal drainage system and the conservation area. The flat rooftop is home to a pollinator garden offering a habitat for birds, bees and butterflies.


Condominium Renovation

Location: Toronto, Ontario
Status: Built
Date: 2013

The condominium was outdated and flood- damaged. Years of neglect had left its walls and carpeting cigarette-stained. Yet we knew this place could once again become a comfortable homestead through the use of natural materials like untreated douglas fir, which was used as flooring material and for the construction of benches as well as headboards.

This full condominium renovation transformed a neglected interior into a simple and contemporary canvas for the owners to exhibit their art and antiquities collections.


Floating Theatre

Location: Berlin, Germany
Status: Competition, Winning Entry
Date: 2015

The First Prize winning entry of the OISTAT Theatre Architecture Competition 2015. This ideas competition asked designers to conceive a floating theatre on the river Spree, at a location known as Holzmarkt. Like much of east Berlin, this area has supported a thriving independent culture for many years, although this too now faces commercial development pressure. The theatre is designed for performance of Judith Thompson’s The Crackwalker, a play with four principal actors, typically staged for small audiences, which focuses on people living on the margins of society. While climaxing in an event of unmitigated, tragic suffering, the play also reveals the innermost dreams, loves and affection of its subjects.


The theatre strives to abolish the spectators’ privileged position over the performer, avoiding easy, merely voyeuristic, sympathy that often accompanies works depicting the lives of the disadvantaged. A four-sided arena layout, reflecting the symmetry of the four protagonists, creates an intensely intimate experience. The stage is not separated and the performance can take place around the audience. Scenes which are not meant to be visible (on playwright’s explicit instruction) can be hidden from sight, yet take place in close proximity. Evening performances will have the feeling of a gathering around a campfire.

The location of the theatre on the water creates a sense of isolation and sacredness, but also of openness, and implicitly addresses all of Berlin into the performance. Simple, highly formal design using raw, low cost materials works in the spirit of Holzmarkt’s character, without fetishizing it, or producing architecture of spectacle.

Takeshita Concert Hall


Location: Tokyo, Japan
Status: Competition Entry
Date: 2015

The Takeshita House of Music is located between a centre of youth pop culture on Takeshita-Dori, the high-street shopping of Meiji-Dori (connecting Takeshita to Omotesando), and the traditional landscape of the Togo Shrine. This context presents an opportunity to create a place of exchange between these different worlds, attracting a wider range of audiences and performers, fluidly accommodating the contrasting identities of adjacent neighborhoods.

Our proposal is an attempt to remove from the music hall any sense of exclusivity, monumentality, or association with an unapproachable ‘high’ culture. Instead, the concert hall must be accessible and open. To this end, the theatre volume is wrapped in a lightweight, open structure, which allows public spaces such as the restaurant and bar to support the life on the street as well as serving the guests seeing a performance. This type of structure is a contemporary adaptation of traditional Japanese framing typologies, which allow spaces to be selectively indoor or outdoor.

A narrow, one storey pavilion extends the commercial frontage on the north side of TakeshitaDori, and creates a permeable transition into a public square that links Meiji-Dori Street to the Togo Shrine garden path, and to the entrance foyer of the theatre.

The concert hall itself is the classic shoebox shapeof dimensions similar to Boston Symphony Hall (still considered one of the acoustically greatest halls in the world) with three tiers of wraparound balconies. The end wall behind the stage is acoustic glazing, corrugated to diffuse sound, allowing natural light into the hall while presenting the image of the city as a backdrop to the performance. Towards the entrance, the concert hall lobbies on each floor face onto the Togo Shrine park. In addition, the ground level side walls of the theatre are designed to pivot open, creating for certain events a new public relationship between the concert hall and its surroundings. These pivoting panels not only allow for a seamless transition between the plaza and the concert hall, they also help welcome a greater variety of musical genres within the concert hall by creating an open condition which is more acoustically suitable for amplified music.

 

Cambridge Gallery

Location: Cambridge, Ontario
Status: Proposal
Date: 2008

The basis for this project had been a proposal to hold an Architecture Biennale in Cambridge, Ontario. A site for this project was chosen next to the Grand River on a small commercial / parking lot that currently interrupts a riverside park system. This proposal was to be the 'Canadian Pavilion', and one of many national pavilions that were envisioned throughout the downtown area.


Cambridge is a small city with a great history as ‘the Manchester of the north’, being a center of heavy manufacturing until the beginning of a long decline in the 1950s. Today the city remains picturesque by the river, but is economically depressed and in need of a post-industrial purpose. The Biennale might help re-invent the city, but from the beginning the idea of creating a expensive, spectacular tourist attraction, as with many new museums or galleries, seemed inappropriate for this largely blue-collar city.  The project calls for an architecturally experimental, nationally representative pavilion, but also begs the question of what happens when the Biennale is over.

This solution was to split the project into three components: first, a simple and flexible building to house the conventional galleries and the obligatory gift shop and cafe. This main building is planned on a generous 5m x 7m column grid, with the intent of being very easy to adapt to different uses in the future (possibly a productive workspace linked to an expanding university presence in Cambridge). These galleries are shaded with a system of pivoting white terra-cotta louvers, computer-controlled to admit natural light while excluding direct sunlight to protect the works displayed inside and to reduce solar heat gain. Solid walls are also clad in these louvers, providing a rainscreen while unifying the entire facade.

A green roof also provides insulation while reducing stormwater runoff on the site. The extra weight of this roof is supported by a steel truss that is deliberately much deeper than necessary, allowing the structural members to be very slender and delicate. The galleries are served by a set of loading and service rooms that form a platform for the Canadian Pavilion itself.

The pavilion makes clear references to the agricultural building traditions of the Waterloo region. Its steel structure supports a skin of reclaimed wood planks from local barn buildings.  Their random lengths and varied finish produces a rich texture on the exterior and hundreds of small spaces left between the boards create a dazzling light effect on the interior. The roof leaves space at its edges for light to enter from above, and a little rain or snow too: this is not a typical white box gallery. The structure offers some enclosure and shelter from the exterior but includes and even amplifies the sound of the wind and the river, dramatizes natural light, and challenges whatever works are inside to forge some connection to the larger environment.

The final component is the court, which is paved with slate and planted with red maples. It provides a shaded spillover space for the cafe’s patrons, large school groups, and summertime lectures. This public area encourages people passing along the river’s linear park to move through the project rather than around it, and gives the park some continuity through the site.


'Sugarcube' Dining Pavilion

Location: Bruce County, Ontario
Status: Temporary Installation
Date: 2006

A small pavilion for outdoor dining was built as a temporary installation on the shores of Georgian Bay. The pavilion gains rigidity from the canvas stretched over the lightweight wood frame. The supporting structure is pulled back from the edges, making the construction seem to float above the water. The dining area is open towards the lake.

Project team: James Andrachuk, Sebastian Bartnicki, Collin Gardner, Sabrina Kerchinger, Robert Micacchi, Uros Novakovic,