The Seoul Performing Arts Center

The Seoul Performing Arts Center

KO, Seoul


An island: a symbol of division – A bridge: a symbol of connection
An island on the water in the middle of the river in the middle of connection between two banks divided in two parts by this very connection.

Two centers – one whole

Consistent scheme of connection-division mirrors in the design concept where two centers connected and divided at the same time come into existence. In the west tip of the island around the empty center are placed the opera house (O) and the concert hall (C) and on the contrary, in the open space at the east is located the amphitheatre (A). These centers act as symbolic centers of gravity (centers) of energy and life circulation similarly as at an ancient taegeuk symbol expressing incorporating cosmic dual entities-that is, heaven and earth, the positive and the negative, two extreme elements in harmonious relations. The perfect union and interaction of the polar extremes of male and female. These dual forces of the cosmos, it was believed, were the fountains of human life…perfection: through the harmony of extremes.

A loop-transformation

An endless loop of the envelope-roof embodies the concepts of continual movement, balance, and harmony that characterize the sphere of infinity. This continual strip is a one-sided nonorientable surface and only one boundary component (Möbius strip). Contrasts then come out in metamorphoses of the endlessly running envelope sheet where that what is at the top transforms in movement in that what is at the bottom and vice versa, where the closed spaces gradually transform in open spaces …The envelope-object in a fluent transformation converts in: a roof, wall, window, door, umbrella, fence, stairs, chair, road … It is a finite-infinity of meanings in an everlasting repeating return to the beginning in various forms of material incarnation.

An envelope-statue = a crust, “a cherry on a cake”

The first step during the design process was an interconnection of separated buildings of different functions by a cladding (structure) in the form of horizontal 8, functionally and symbolically creating a figure of an endless flow as if created by gurgle of the Hangang river flow. The cladding structure is composed of individual goffered gables pre-tensioned by a spatial latticework in a shape of a 3D shell. The structure and color of the cladding panels will change from fully glazed to transparent ones provided with a shading matting to full opaque ones.

The panel surface is fitted with metal sheets of matting gold (red bronze) the same as the shading stretched matting and reflex glass foils or photovoltaic cells and sun collectors.

Above the ground floor level and the overground floors = a core

In the west part around the common yard spaces are located opera buildings (O) and a concert hall (C).

The opera (O) is formed by a front and three floors of boxes accessed from individual floor by circuit external galleries and classical proscenium stage completed by two side stages with mobile platforms and three back-stages with a middle revolving stage.

The concert hall (C) of an area type is formed by a longitudinal front and two floors of side boxes. A storey organ is placed in its front. The light and sound control room is placed in the rear part. The stage is placed on a hoisting mechanism allowing variable transformation of the stage for housing of bigger choruses and traditional music concerts.

A panoramic restaurant, three-story bars, a tearoom and a coffee bar is located in the common foyer with two separated foyers for O and C. In this space may also be seen the scenery assembly room. 

So, a visitor may visit a performance even before “it started” and participate in the reverse side of a show by looking to the “back-stage”. The foyer, formed by different spaces and shapes and with it connected front-spaces of external monumental staircases are always prepared for any performance starting with “star” welcoming to performances of a street theatre type. Events may take place in the interior, exterior, at their range as well as on the land or water. The opera stage may be extended by an experimental stage adjoining to the rear stage. This stage-auditorium allows creating a variable space by shifting walls, floor and partitions.

At the opposite side of the island at a small pitch inside the continuous envelope’s curve, the amphitheatre (A) is placed formed by two opposite segments. Inside the bigger segment is located a revolving stage that may be easily transformed in a revolving auditorium, so the actor’s movement may be replaced by the audience’s movement. Part of the fronts is mobile and convertible. The whole building may be roofed temporarily by a tarpaulin structure. The capacity of the front will be up to 3000 spectators.

A small mediatheque with library and shops an art gallery and a restaurant complete the main O, C and A buildings.

The 0 level – landscaping and greenery = “the lush is inside…”

The foundation slab placed on a massive plinth is designed as a combined landscaping between the “order and chaos” (see the Landscape design of the Island). There is an intensive green roof in the west part at level 0 with access roads with trees, shrubs and flowers in mobile containers combined with trees rooted in a natural grade at the 1st basement level growing through the foundation slab in oval openings. In the east part an artificially created roof garden transforms in to a natural free landscaping on a grade and with direct touch with soil.

Level below 0_a plinth and back-of-the-house = “what one’s eye does not see, one’s heart does not prey on”, the Servant of Two Masters

In a one to two floor plinth are included all service functions for the whole island and back of the buildings on and above the 0 level.

A single storey public car park is placed at the 1st basement level divided in two parts by a tunnel. Interconnection of both parts is allowed at the 2nd basement. In the 1st basement, parts of plants O, C, and A are placed, back-of-the-house and a kitchen and the administrative part of operation plants.

Workshops with an assembly room, technical facilities and technology rooms, storages and their extended reserves, car park for the staff and actors, part of public lots for bikers and also the public transport stops and taxis are placed in the 2nd basement.

Landscape design of the Island

The landscape design of the Island keeps the concept of two merged opposites, where in the west closed “eum” center is placed an “artificial” regularly orthogonal landscaping with rhythmically placed trees and straight vistas to the other side to the east open “yang” center with irregular chaotically scattered “organic-natural” greenery. Both tips of the island are treated in a similar manner. The west tip is formed by regular structure on a monumental staircase with ramps symbolically illuminated by the “lighthouse” light. At the east tip is placed a “stone desert” as if lost at the end of the world forming an alternative to a solo performance without stages and “floats” for only a small circle of spectators.

Access to the Nodeul Island and the proposed Performing Arts Center – traffic design

The presumption of the traffic design is keeping both bridges including the island part in position and capacity the same as the existing one. The traffic design and forming of the slip roads accommodates so that traffic would not be interrupted but only limited during the construction period. A tunnel corridor and a roundabout are placed in the 2nd basement connecting both parts of the island in respect of traffic.

Also a public car park with capacity ca 400 lots will be here as well as new stops and stations in the 2nd basement for all types of public transport, i.e. arterial bus, local bus, downtown circular bus, and inter-city express bus, taxi, all this completed by a public parking for bikers. Another access to the island is allowed from the river from the north side at the west tip of the island from a pontoon boat and water taxi port by a scenic staircase directly accessing the main foyer O and C.

Container storages are accessible for big lorries and trucks. For lighting cars and mobile emergency power sources, or for accessory cars of ensembles is available access at the 1st basement level to A.

The foundation slab level is accessible for service both ways from the bridge by two ramps.

Noise disturbance by the arterial road and the neighboring railroad bridge

Already, the orientation and location of the individual volumes, i.e. covered at the greatest noise point (O, C) and open (A) in the position least loaded by noise is the first presumption of the acoustic solution. Sufficient acoustic attenuation will be achieved by taking the traffic to underground below the upper plinth slab. Also the double-wall systems along sides of the tunnel inside which are placed leveling ramps between the plinth floors will decrease the noise level above the foundation slab (level 01).

Land use considering floods

All internal volumes lay above the water level of 15.33m. Only deep foundations of buildings, access roads at the lower part of the embankment, i.e. staircases and ramps and the anchored part of landscaping  (stone desert) and the anchoring lighthouse are placed in non-risk positions below this level.

Operation and sustainable development

All provisions should aim at allowing recycling all sources and at maximum independence on the surrounding. No matter whether it will concern use of alternative technologies such as heat pumps using water from the Hangang River as a medium or solar collectors placed on the envelope of buildings completed by photovoltaic cells. Also well selected operation and energy and media management including processing of waste using e.g. root sewerage disposal plant that may become not only a source of re-usable domestic water, but also an interesting accessory to landscaping. Such park could express a symbolic motive – harmonic consonance between an artificial world of a city-a place created by a man and a natural order of the Nature.

Organizing Committee for The Seoul Performing Arts Center affiliated to The Municipal Government of Seoul

Stella Boechat Cordeiro
Richard Doležal
Jana Hanzalová
Jan Magasanik
Peter Malaga
Petr Malinský
Agata Kiszka
Marek Topič

Robert V. Novák
Dušan Tománek
Marek Topič

Petr Dvořák


Národní technická knihovna

CZ, Praha 11/2001

Czech National Library

CZ, Praha 10/2006
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