OMA creates multifaceted glass route at The Galleria store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

The Galleria in Gwanggyo, designed by OMA, stands apart from other retail shops with its multi-faced glass walkway wrapping around its earth-coloured, pixelated, cubic form.

by Jincy Iype Published on : Mar 28, 2020

Revered architectural firm OMA, founded by Rem Koolhaas, has completed the Galleria department store in Gwanggyo, South Korea, just south of the country’s capital Seoul. The Galleria is one of Korea’s largest (and first) upscale retail store franchises. Their sixth, newest branch has an air of playful curiosity about it - the unusual cube appears as a sculpted stone rising from the ground, its bejeweled façade playing the role of the visual anchor in the city. Galleria in Gwanggyo is a cultural retail space where the city and nature join, a place to get away from the ‘predictability of shopping’, as explained by the Dutch architectural studio.

  • The Galleria appears as a sculpted stone rising from the ground | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    The Galleria appears as a sculpted stone rising from the ground Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA
  • The Galleria’s entrance | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    The Galleria’s entrance Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

Gwanggyo is a young urban area, and Galleria takes centerstage here. The store is surrounded by towering residential buildings, and its stone-like appearance garners visual attention and draws in onlookers. Galleria in Gwanggyo sits at the intersection of nature and the urban environment, as the store is located between the Suwon Gwanggyo Lake Park and the numerous buildings in the city.

The retail store’s elevation features pixelated, mosaic stone | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
The retail store’s elevation features pixelated, mosaic stone Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

The Galleria store’s elevation features pixelated, mosaic stone, mimicking the nature of the neighbouring park. The pixelated triangles give the cube a textured pattern. It is rendered in shades of brown to make it seem like a rock, a piece of earth that is sprouting. The volume is punctured by a multifaceted glass glazing at the façade of the structure, and it runs on and inside the store, often projecting out and breaking its geometry. The glass passage is called the ‘Public Loop’ that provides a contrast to the stone’s opacity and also serves as a walkway for people, providing access to each floor. It begins at the ground level and gnaws around the cube twice (as seen from outside), and finally reaches the roof garden at the top floor, which hosts retail and cultural activities.

  • The volume is punctured by a multifaceted glass glazing | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    The volume is punctured by a multifaceted glass glazing Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA
  • Details of the glass feature which projects out of the building at times | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Details of the glass feature which projects out of the building at times Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

The Galleria is “formed with a sequence of cascading terraces”, while the Public Loop offers spaces for exhibitions, performances and other public leisure happenings. The various levels of The Galleria also host a plethora of activity spaces across its various levels - a deli, market, jewellery shop, boutiques, men and women’s apparel, family and kids, sports and leisure, home and living, lounge, an academy, dining areas and a cinema hall.

  • Triangles of glass attached in steel frames make up the unique glazing | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Triangles of glass attached in steel frames make up the unique glazing Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA
  • Inside the ‘Public Loop’ – the glass route inside the retail store | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Inside the ‘Public Loop’ – the glass route inside the retail store Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

Passersby outside can see the cultural and retail activities taking place inside the retail store through the glass facade, while visitors inside can enjoy views of Gwanggyo through various vantage points. “With a public loop deliberately designed for cultural offerings, Galleria in Gwanggyo is a place where visitors engage with architecture and culture as they shop. They leave with a unique retail experience blended with pleasant surprises after each visit,” shares OMA partner Chris van Duijn, who led the project.

  • The Galleria’s deli | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    The Galleria’s deli Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA
  • Inside The Galleria in Gwanggyo | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Inside The Galleria in Gwanggyo Image Credit: © Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

The Galleria in Gwanggyo is a welcome break from the monotonous designs of usual retail spaces, and it evokes inquisitiveness – to linger and observe, and become curious enough to venture inside. OMA brings light inside a department store through the ‘Public Loop’, and creates an iconic structure, replete with a fey glass walkway jutting out of its earthy, pixelated façade – who knew department stores could look so appealing!

  • Galleria concept | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Galleria concept Image Credit: Courtesy of OMA
  • Galleria elevation | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Galleria elevation Image Credit: Courtesy of OMA
  • Axonometric drawing of the void tower showing spaces inside The Galleria in Gwanggyo | Galleria in Gwanggyo by OMA | STIRworld
    Axonometric drawing of the void tower showing spaces inside The Galleria in Gwanggyo Image Credit: Courtesy of OMA

Project Details

Name: Galleria in Gwanggyo
Location: Gwanggyo, Korea
Area: 73,721 sqm (above ground), 63,492 sqm (below ground)
Year of completion: 2016 - 2020
Client: Hanwha Galleria
Programme: Retail
Architect: OMA
Partner in Charge: Chris van Duijn
Associate: Ravi Kamisetti
Project leader: Patrizia Zobernig
Executive Architect: Gansam
Design development: Ikki Kondo, James Lee, Daan Ooievaar, Slobodan Radoman, John Thurtle
Interior Design: Nils Axen, Simon Bastien, Tommaso Bernabo, Minjung Cho, Felicia Gambino, Nicola Ho, Meng Huang, Zhenke Jin, Richard Leung, Ioana Pricop, Junsik Oh, Calvin Yue
Contractor: Hanwha Engineering&Construction corp.
Facade Consultant: VS-A

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