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ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea

DIscover UNStudio’s winning proposal for the Chungnam Art Museum in South Korea

ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea
Image Courtesy of © Bloomimages

UNStudio and DA Group were selected as the winners of the competition for the Chungnam Art Museum in South Korea. The winning consortium comprises design partners UNStudio and DA Group, Squint/Opera (digital content and exhibition design), Loos van Vliet (landscape design) and UNSense (community content).

The design for the Chungnam Art Museum goes far beyond a traditional art museum. It is a fully immersive cultural and social experience for the whole community; a living, breathing space that will grow and change over time. The museum is designed as a place of inspiration, participation and contribution – to both art and the community. It also aims to become one of the first Zero-Energy museums in Korea. We talked to the UNStudio team about the project, the idea behind it and their design process.

ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea
Image Courtesy of © Bloomimages

What defines the Chungnam Art Museum as a true zero energy museum?

The Chungnam Art Museum seeks to become one of the first Zero Energy Museums in Korea.

Through a passive design approach, we optimized the building orientation and space planning and propose a high-performance envelope construction to minimise the energy load of the building.

In the large central atrium, automatically controlled openings at the main entrances and around the skylight will allow air to flow within the space, ensuring that thermal comfort conditions are met, whilst minimizing cooling and ventilation load in the summers. This strategy will allow the atrium to approximately halve its energy demand.

To offset the remaining energy consumption of the building, the Chungnam Art Museum will also feature onsite solar power generation. PV Panels will be installed on the gallery rooftops as part of the Atrium skylight, as well as in the landscape and integrated in the paving of outdoor pedestrian areas.

What are the main sustainability measures UNStudio and DA Group are to implement into the construction of the museum?

We envision the construction process to consist of off-site modular panel fabrication, minimizing the amount of onsite construction assembly.


The facade is developed as a high performance skin. With enhancing the conventional GRC (Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete), the proposed facade design uses modulated UHPFRC (Ultra-High-Performance Fibre Reinforced Concrete) panels. It is lightweight (i.e. ~ 40kg/m², 15mm thick) with extensive strength material, which uses fewer sub-structural frames. The perforation is formed with a waterjet cutting technique which can produce a smaller void size if needed. The material has excellent durability for up to 100+ years.

ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea
Image Courtesy of © Bloomimages

How does the Chungnam Art Museum stand out from other zero-energy and green buildings UNStudio has worked on so far?

Many of our past projects in South Korea have focused on retrofit and renovation of existing structures, with a focus on sustainability. Most recently, the Hanwha Headquarters renovation in Seoul has provided for an improved indoor environment by developing an integrated facade concept. The responsive facade modules change in dimension depending on the solar orientation, while direct solar impact on the building is reduced by shading that is created by angling the glazing away from direct sunlight and placing PV cells on the opaque south/southeast facade panels.

We have approached the Chungnam Art Museum with a similar mentality of using sustainability to increase the quality of the interior space, while also looking to future proof the museum for years to come.

Did the local culture of the Chungnam province shape the museum’s design in any way?

The concept of “Madang” or a lively, flexible courtyard space provided inspiration for the “Cultural Boulevard”.

The Chungnam Museum is a new form of engagement between art and the public, where each member of the community can generate a new experience from their own perspective. It does this by turning the museum inside out, bringing in the city and community of Chungnam to create a diverse and vibrant cultural experience. This cultural experience takes on a multi-faceted approach, weaving together the cultural and the commercial offer within the museum.

ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea
Image Courtesy of © Bloomimages

Did our past experience with Covid19 crisis play any part in the design of the museum?

Our experience in designing for COVID proof scenarios has taught us that flexibility and agility are important aspects of any design. The museum exhibition spaces are designed with flexibility in mind, able to expand or contract to allow multiple combinations of differing scale. Each exhibition space has the option of extending into an exterior landscape exhibition space to accommodate covid restrictions as well.

What was the most challenging part of incorporation the digital aspect into the design layout of the museum?

For the future of the Chungnam Art Museum, we see the opportunity to create vibrant and interactive spaces through which art and technology can be experienced in new ways.

We have developed a digital masterplan to broaden and strengthen the relationship of the museum with its visitors. The museum experience is not a passive one, but an interactive immersive experience through which visitors can experience revolving digital exhibitions and customized content. Over time, the content changes and grows, delivering a new and fresh view each time the visitor returns to the museum. Through the AR App, personalized content is directly curated based on the user’s interests and past visits.

ARCHISCENE Talks To UNStudio About Their Latest Project in South Korea
Image Courtesy of © Bloomimages

What will be the main message visitors of the museum should leave with?

We hope visitors leave with impression that the community is central to our design for the Chungnam Art Museum. For a resident of the local community, the museum and its surroundings become a place to socialise and interact with other members of their community. For them, the museum becomes not only a place to visit, but to return to for frequent personal exchanges and educational activities. The Chungnam Art Museum will be a marketplace for culture that embraces flexibility and the concept of “art for all”. It will ultimately be a place for the community, now and for the future.

UNStudio team: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Sontaya Bluangtook, Marc Salemink and Heeyoun Kim, Hyoseon Park, Alba Pelaez, Andrii Kniaz

Design Partners: UNStudio and DA Group
Digital Content and Exhibition Design: Squint/Opera
Landscape design: Loos van Vliet
Community Content: UNSense

Visualisations: Bloomimages
Animations: Morean

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