by Anmol AhujaFeb 23, 2021
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.
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 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 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.
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 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!
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
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