Summer shelter erected in museum
SoA wins Young Architects Program with structure made with natural reed screens outside the contemporary art museum
Published : Jul 8, 2015 - 17:52
Updated : Jul 8, 2015 - 17:59
Under the blazing summer sun, rows of loosely hanging reed blinds create shade, inviting passersby on the heated streets of Seoul to cool down.

The reeds form the main part of a “park with a roof” set up outside the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.

"Roof Sentiment" by SoA (MMCA)

It was designed and constructed by architect duo Lee Chi-hoon and Kang Ye-rin – together known as Society of Architecture – and won this year’s Young Architects Program, jointly organized by the MMCA, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Hyundai Card.

The YAP first began at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1988 to discover and foster talented young architects. The program now runs at major museums in New York, Seoul, Santiago, Rome and Istanbul.

In June, SoA also won the Young Architect Award 2015 from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Lee Chi-hoon (left) and Kang Ye-rin, the founding partners of SoA (MMCA)

Its winning piece, “Roof Sentiment,” serves as a natural summer shelter in the middle of the cement city. The roof is constructed from 25-meter-wide woven reed blinds held together with wires that create a wave pattern. They are loosely hung on steel structures and create shade over a small “forest.” Pine tree bark covers the ground, emitting a fresh forest scent when it rains.

The architects said they wanted it to be more than a structure, delivering a whole new experience.

“When it rains, you see rain running down the reeds. When the wind blows, you will hear the reed blinds gently hitting each other. On a clear day, the reed blinds will create different shades of sunlight,” said Lee Chi-hoon, one of the founding partners of SoA.

The roof attempts to create a balance with the surrounding landscape in the historic neighborhood of Seoul.

The natural materials blend well with the neighboring landmarks of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Village.

The creators recommend visitors lie down facing the sky, feel the breeze blowing from the mountains and view the surrounding landscape through the reed blinds.

“This is an inventive way to expand the field of architecture and a good solution to the city,” said Pippo Ciorra, senior curator of architecture at Rome’s MAXXI museum, at the press conference held to introduce the YAP in Seoul last week.

SoA is one of many architectural teams whose work straddles construction and art. With the building industry going through a slump, young architects here are seeking to engage in artistic projects with museums and galleries, expanding the boundaries of architecture.

The team recently designed and built a small housing complex called “The Rabbit” in the residential district of Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. More buildings are in progress, such as a residential house in Gyeonggi Province and another in South Jeolla Province.

They have actively participated in public art projects, such as at Anyang Public Art Project and O’Sulloc Tea Museum on Jejudo Island.

The museum holds the YAP exhibition until Sept. 30, showcasing nominated works for the program and their blueprints and models.

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By Lee Woo-young  (