Zaha Hadid's Dongdaemun Design Plaza
opens in Seoul

| 24 comments

Amongst the bustling 24-hour shopping district of South Korea's capital city, Zaha Hadid has completed a 38,000-square-metre cultural complex with a twinkling aluminium facade (+ movie).

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

Inaugurated on Friday, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) by Zaha Hadid Architects provides Seoul with a hub for art, design and technology, plus a landscaped park that serves as a much-needed green oasis, and a public plaza linking the two.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The building features a shapely facade made up of 45,000 aluminium panels of varying sizes and curvatures. This was achieved using advanced 3-dimensional digital construction services, making DDP the first public building in Korea to utilise the technology.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

Described by the designers as "a field of pixilation and perforation patterns", the backlit facade is speckled with minute perforations that allow the building to transform from a solid entity by day into an animated light show by night.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

"The design integrates the park and plaza seamlessly as one, blurring the boundary between architecture and nature in a continuous, fluid landscape," said Zaha Hadid Architects in a statement.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The complex is made up of eight storeys, of which four sit above ground level and four are set below the plaza. Facilities include exhibition galleries, convention and seminar rooms, a design museum, and a library and education centre.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

Voids puncturing the surface of the park offer a look down into the spaces below, and also allow daylight to permeate the building.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The building opened on 21 March to mark the start of Korean Fashion Week, but is also hosting five art and design exhibitions, alongside a collection of Korean art from the Kansong Art Museum.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

Photography is by Virgile Simon Bertrand. Movie is by Dan Chung.

Here's the project description from Zaha Hadid Architects:


Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

The DDP has been designed as a cultural hub at the centre of Dongdaemun, a historic district of Seoul that is now renowned for its 24-hour shopping and cafes. DDP is a place for people of all ages; a catalyst for the instigation and exchange of ideas and for new technologies and media to be explored. The variety of public spaces within DDP include Exhibition Halls, Convention Halls, Design Museum, Library, Lab and Archives, Children's Education Centre, Media Centre, Seminar Rooms and Sky Lounge; enabling DDP to present the widest diversity of exhibitions and events that feed the cultural vitality of the city.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The DDP is an architectural landscape that revolves around the ancient city wall and cultural artefacts discovered during archaeological excavations preceding DDP's construction. These historic features form the central element of DDP's composition; linking the park, plaza and city together.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The design is the very specific result of how the context, local culture, programmatic requirements and innovative engineering come together - allowing the architecture, city and landscape to combine in both form and spatial experience - creating a whole new civic space for the city.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The DDP Park is a place for leisure, relaxation and refuge - a new green oasis within the busy urban surroundings of Dongdaemun. The design integrates the park and plaza seamlessly as one, blurring the boundary between architecture and nature in a continuous, fluid landscape. Voids in the park's surface give visitors glimpses into the innovative world of design below, making the DDP an important link between the city's contemporary culture, emerging nature and history.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

The 30,000 square metre park reinterprets the spatial concepts of traditional Korean garden design: layering, horizontality, blurring the relationship between the interior and the exterior – with no single feature dominating the perspective. This approach is further informed by historic local painting traditions that depict grand visions of the ever-changing aspects of nature.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

DDP encourages many contributions and innovations to feed into each other; engaging the community and allowing talents and ideas to flourish. In combination with the city's exciting public cultural programs, DDP is an investment in the education and inspiration of future generations.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

DDP's design and construction sets many new standards of innovation. DDP is the first public project in Korea to implement advanced 3-dimensional digital construction services that ensure the highest quality and cost controls. These include 3-dimensional Building Information Modelling (BIM) for construction management and engineering coordination, enabling the design process to adapt with the evolving client brief and integrate all engineering requirements.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

These innovations have enabled the team building DDP to control the construction with much greater precision than conventional processes and improve efficiencies. Implementing such construction technologies make DDP one of Korea's most innovative and technological advanced constructions to date.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid

DDP opens to the public on 21 March 2014 by hosting Korean Fashion Week. DDP will also host five separate design and art exhibitions featuring works by modern designers as well as the prized collection of traditional Korean art of the Kansong Art Museum.

Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Ground floor level - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
First floor level - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Second floor level - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Third floor level - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Roof plan - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Basement level one - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Basement level two - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Basement level three - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Basement level four - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Sections A, B and C - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Sections D, E and F - click for larger image
Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid
Sections G, H and I - click for larger image
  • James Burt

    The form looks fantastic. Like the Aquatic centre and Aliyev the workmanship makes a huge contribution. My only negative is that I’m not sure how well it will perform with anything of substance inside it. I think the minimalism and flowing form might be a bit confusing for navigating too.

  • terrordome

    Pictures 4 and 5 with the lone human in it looks frightening!

  • Daniel L

    When will this stop?

  • zee

    The haters are sleeping ;)

  • http://www.designadam.com Adam

    How does one condense such architectural amazement into one Dezeen comment?

  • JMA

    Simply brilliant. As mentioned above, the craftsmanship really takes this to another level. Great detailing.

  • Derek_V

    You mean the jealous complaining?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Ya seen one blob, ya seen ‘em all *Yawn

    • Antonio Monserrat

      Ya seen one box, ya seen ‘em all *Yawn

  • Julie G

    I agree. It looks quite oppressive, like the early 60’s Government monoliths in D.C. I would not want to be walking under one of those overhangs during an earthquake. Or any time, really. They scare me.

  • Anthony

    Woosh! Woosh! Woosh! Where am I going? Where am I? What time is it? I can’t stand still – must keep moving… why?

    • KW

      Stop doing weeds.

  • http://be.net/bassel Bassel

    This building nicely blends with it’s surroundings, which must be a first for a Zaha design!

  • Ablo

    A great addition to Seoul. At night it’s magical.

  • jara1000

    WOW. It’s construction is so great! I heard that the local architect played a very big role to realise it fantastic. Was it SAMOO Architects in Seoul?

  • JS

    This is a kind of design that works in the middle of a dessert. Not in a vibrant, notorious market place like Dongdaemoon. I find this design completely disrespectful of the surrounding culture and landscape.

    • Joaquin Vaquero

      Zaha continues imposing her formal obsession to the needs of society and to the meaning of architecture. This is not the future, this is not a responsible and compromise architectural solution. Too expensive and too unnecessary curved walls.

  • James Briano

    Hadid competing with Gehry for the title: Most Overrated Contemporary Architect.

  • Steve_Lamb

    I always have mixed feelings about her work. In every one of her buildings there are pieces that seem to really work, but overall not so much.

    I also have problems with her always removed from nature palettes and there always seems to be an uncomfortable juxtaposition between her blobs and various ridged geometric structures that seem to serve no purpose. The craftsmanship on the building is wonderful and clearly the interpenetrations of light in what appears to be a solid is an idea derived from Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile blocks and the roof of John Lautner’s Goldman/Sheets house.

  • Jack O’Keeffe

    I’m not typically a fan of Zaha’s work, I always seem to find it too random. However, I find this really, really interesting. I love the zig-zag protrusion on the walls to allow seating and the facade works brilliantly with the concrete.

  • ud

    Why local architects’ role is not mentioned?

  • Erin

    Boring. Her work is all pretty much the same. Her submission for Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station was pretty much the same. None of her designs seem to take anything from the social context within which it will sit, just the structural lines or needs for (sleek, metallic, round edged) transit paths.

    This speaks just as much about Korean culture, society or people as the Melbourne one did about Melburnian (or Australian) people, culture and society. Which is nothing. Why do people love it so much other than it doesn’t require you to think much about the diversity or patina of human beings or cultures at all. Which I guess is pretty awesome if you find that kind of thing too varied and tiring to do in your work.

  • Antonio Monserrat

    Sure it’s not the future, it’s the present. Curved walls? Go there, experience it and you will see how it becomes a space for celebration. Korean’s might have never experienced anything like it before.

  • sttstts

    She sure knows how to make costly buildings look cheap.