Summer escape to the museum

By Lee Woo-young

Award-winning project by Korean architectural group Moon Ji Bang offers an outdoor spot to cool off

  • Published : Jul 9, 2014 - 20:39
  • Updated : Jul 9, 2014 - 20:39
White balloons sway in the breeze, creating shade where urbanites can take shelter from the blazing summer sun. A mist of water from sprinklers cools off the hot summer air in a forest of high-rise buildings. Even dragonflies fly around the mist as they do over a river fog.

The space is in the front garden of the Seoul Museum of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. It is, in fact, an architectural installation that won the prestigious Young Architects Program run by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The YAP, which started in 1998 and expanded from New York to Chile, Italy and Turkey, has discovered talented young architects from around the world.

“Architecture can be a new means to bring a new audience and culture to the museum. And it promotes the new talent into a bigger visibility,” said Pedro Gadanho, curator of contemporary architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the press preview in Seoul on Tuesday.

The Seoul exhibition, held for the first time in Asia, features the winning installation “Shinseon Play” by the architectural group Moon Ji Bang, which consists of architects Choi Jang-won, Park Cheong-gang and Kwon Kyung-min, all in their mid-30s. 
Shinseon Play, a temporary resting spot installed by Moon Ji Bang, winner of the Young Architects Program, in the front yard of the Seoul branch of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. (MMCA)

“We adopted the Korean fantasy of a world where a Taoist hermit lives as the concept of the project. We kept in mind that the world we create should be in sync with the sentiment of Koreans,” said the group at the press preview on Tuesday.

The installation is comprised of more than 30 white balloons which create shade where visitors can rest while sitting on benches. It’s also physically connected by a wooden bridge to the museum’s back garden, where the Jongchinbu building, an office where officials administered royal family affairs in the Joseon era, is located. Just across the street stands Gyeongbokgung Palace, used as the main royal palace at the beginning and end of the 600-year Joseon era.

“Judges noted that the installation is connected to the surrounding environment. They said it was poetic,” the group said.
Moon Ji Bang, a project group of three young architects. (MMCA)

The project aims to be eco-friendly in terms of materials and function. The architects removed the cement tiles that had covered the dirt and created a lawn, which absorbs rain and controls humidity in the front garden. The balloons, which resemble beach parasols, cover a larger area than the lawn to provide shade to many people.

The museum is also holding an exhibition inside that presents the works of finalists including Nameless Architecture, Kim Se-jin, Lee Yong-ju and AnL Studio, and information on the history of the YAP.

The exhibition was organized by the MMCA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Hyundai Card. It runs through Oct. 5 at the Seoul Museum of the MMCA. For more information, visit www.mmca.go.kr.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)