Galleria Centercity by UNStudio


Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Amsterdam architects UNStudio have completed this department store in Cheonan, South Korea.

Galleria Centercity by  UNStudio

Called Galleria Centercity, the building has facade comprising two layers of lamellas, which create a moiré effect.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Above photograph is by Kim Yong-kwan

Animations and light patterns are projected from this skin at night.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Daylight is admitted through the facade and reflected around the all-white interior to reduct the need for artificial lighting.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Areas of the department store are set aside for cultural programming, including exhibitions and fashion shows.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

More about UNStudio on Dezeen »

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Above photograph is by Kim Yong-kwan

Photographs are by Christian Richters/View unless stated otherwise.

The information below is from UNStudio:

Ben van Berkel / UNStudio's Galleria Centercity in Cheonan – “If museums are turning into supermarkets, why then should department stores not turn into museums?”

"The Galleria Cheonan responds to the current retail climate in Asia, where department stores also operate as social and semi-cultural meeting places. Because of this, the quality of the public spaces within the building was treated as an integral aspect of the design." Ben van Berkel

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Above photograph is by Kim Yong-kwan

Eye Shopping – Re-conquering the public domain within a commercial destination

UNStudio's Galleria Centercity Department Store in the Korean city of Cheonan reclaims the social and cultural space within the private, commercial large scale department store.

Rather than being the outcome of a prescriptive, standard-critical approach, the design of the Galleria Centercity is based on observations of current behavioural tendencies in large commercial spaces. 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.

An expanded interpretation of utility beyond efficiency and profitability is at the heart of the design. In view of this, along with a more varied programme, UNStudio’s design seeks to provide a stimulating experience for the visitor.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Above photograph is by Kim Yong-kwan

On the outside, this is translated into an appearance that is almost impossible to fix. The double layered facades are articulated in a trompe l’oeuil pattern of vertical mullions. The vertical lines on the façade make the scale of the building unreadable; does it contain three floor levels, or fifteen? 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.

Programmatically, the Galleria Cheonan incorporates a number of cultural and public spaces, including an art and cultural centre and a vip room. In the basement, a food court and specialty supermarket constitute another distinct destination within the building, which is simultaneously integrated with the overall design strategy.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Above photograph is by Kim Yong-kwan

Cheonan –New city development as platform for innovation

Situated some 80km south of Seoul, Cheonan is well connected to the capital by railway and road, with a new high speed rail link having recently been completed. The area around the new high speed terminal is under development and - prominently visible from the main road - the Galleria Centercity marks the entrance to this new development area.

"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." Ben van Berkel

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Dynamic Flow and optical illusion on a grand scale

The main architectural theme for the Galleria Cheonan is that of dynamic flow. This is found both inside and outside. The architecture of the 66,000 m ² building responds to its central position by presenting a deliberately changeable aspect all-around. Moiré effects, special lighting and animations ensure that the outside changes appearance constantly.

The double layered facade encloses the building, with a number of strategic openings incorporated into the inner facade layer. These openings provide daylight to the interior. At the same time, the lamellas of the outer façade prevent direct sunlight from entering the building, ensuring a cooler environment, while the use of white finishes throughout the interior minimises the need for artificial lighting.

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 programme 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.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Media facade - The largest illuminated surface of its kind in the world

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.

Galleria Centercity by UNStudio

Place branding – not name branding

Rather than creating a platform for a multiple billboard effect made up of individual brand identities, the thematic animated content of the fully integrated media façade facilitates a more holistic and site-oriented urban approach to branding.


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, Grete Veskiväli, Eelco Grootjes, Alexia Koch.


GANSAM Architects & Partners, Seoul, KoreaI

See also:


Dance Palace by
Burnham Pavilion by

Posted on Monday March 28th 2011 at 4:34 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Jeff

    Yes, we all want to work at UN Studio …

    • Gerard

      i just got an internship :D

  • Simone

    How works the acustic?

  • Haha! Indeed we all do. Such delightful architecture.

  • iannis

    very nice this project and difficult!!!but i think the people who goes there they cant feel makes me a little stress…

  • yuc

    The cladding is a haute-couture masterpiece. As a mall-hater, I cannot but bow my head before this modern realization of bekleidung theory.

  • zahi h

    "isolated curtain wall glazing" haha… that happens if you get your design done by interns

  • What a colorful facade for a boring all-white interior

    White fore more bright?
    Colors can be bright as well!

  • coolest atrium on the block!!!!

  • eva

    It was such a nice work of art.

  • nina

    this kind of designs emphasis the materialistic and capitalist life, and it proofed the failure to make a better life and had effected people through the past 25 30 years…waste of time and money

  • shanber

    The interior makes me feel dizzy just looking at it, overkill.

  • I'm jealous of Cheonan!

  • ghazaleh

    Can you help me about this facade? I need to know about facade detail and I can’t see the profile. Please help me. Thanks.

    • Hi ghazaleh, I don't really understand your question. What do you want to know about the facade? Amy/Dezeen