Open menu

The National Museum of Korean Literature

The National Museum of Korean Literature

Design: 2021

• The National Museum of Korean Literature – Competition Honorable Mention

Nestled in the hillside of Bukhan mountain, the National Museum of Korean Literature sits timelessly in the landscape overlooking the Eunpeyong New Town, anchoring the cultural cluster of important museums and art institutions that are emerging in the northwest of central Seoul.

Open and democratic, celebrating the cultural heritage of Korean literature, the NMKL is not only a state-of-the-art institution for archiving and preserving literature in written form, but a dynamic village for art and culture, promoting exchange, collaboration, and the passing of knowledge. In lieu of the collection storage being hidden and “out-of-view” to the public, two “cultural storehouse towers” were envisioned to contain the varied functional programming of the new NMKL. Clad in paper like ceramically fritted-glass sails, the entire complex arrangement evokes the soft curvature of the roofs and eaves of a traditional Korean village.

With advances in the production of sustainable forestry, the NMKL takes advantage of the increasingly accessible high-strength glulam/CLT technology. The leaning “book assembly” of each structural sail was conceptualized to act like a series of lightweight Vierendeel trusses, gently hovering on strategic points of the tiered landscape, creating an open and porous base. The curving structure creates a pinwheel of interlocked canted trays to provide area for programming within each floor, yet carefully blocking any direct sunlight. UV filtered fritted IG-units and integrated 50%/100% knockdown shading provides additional conservation protection blocking direct sunlight. Structurally engineered to withstand seismic and lateral loads, a tower floor-to-floor height of 7.8m with mezzanines, offer privacy and access to the multi-stage bookshelf system.

Taking advantage of the 9m sloping site, multiple public entrances, and circulation points around the entire complex provide logistics for culturally dynamic programming throughout the day and evening. The larger tower volume with the museum gallery and specialized library, consists of a series of tiered platforms and trays overlooking a large public atrium. The open “amphitheater,” provides a flexible venue for exhibitions and public performances such as “hyangga,” mask plays, puppet shows, “p’ansori,” and other forms of traditional/contemporary oral literature. The smaller tower volume with a special reading room and preservation studios at the lower entrance/mezzanine level, offers protected access to rare collections of “idu” early transcription systems, early Korean literature in Chinese, and important works in Hangul. To the south, 1,500m2 of landscaped grounds is strategically preserved for future expansion with direct access to the rare books collection and preservation Studios. Connecting the two “cultural storehouse towers” is a centrally located restaurant with an outdoor terrace/performance venue facing Gijachon Park, hovering above the multipurpose hall and Education Wing offering programming and venue for institutions, schools, clubs and the neighboring art village and residents.

The NMKL is not only a state-of-the-art facility with both physical and virtual support programming and capabilities, but a constantly evolving institution celebrating the sharing and passing of knowledge to future generations. The NMKL will not only become a cultural anchor for all of Korea but a dynamic global cultural beacon at the forefront of the 21st century and beyond.

Project Gallery