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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul Jung-gu: Zaha Hadid's Greatest Masterpiece in Korea

The Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park (DDP) is a large urban development project in 281 Eulji Avenue, Euljiro 7-ga 2-1 beonji, Seoul Jung-gu which includes a park, exhibition spaces, and restored parts of the Seoul-Hanyang Fortress. Originally planned for completion by 2010 to coincide with Seoul's designation as World Design Capital that year, but construction only started in April 2009, and the DDP was officially inaugurated on March 21, 2014. Organizers hope to make Dongdaemun the fashion hub of South Korea and possibly the entire Asia-Pacific region.

The DDP has been designed as a cultural hub at the centre of Dongdaemun - even though the complex is located in the core district of Seoul Jung-gu, 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

These innovations have enabled the teams (Zaha Hadid Architects and Samoo Architects & Engineers) build 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.