Completed in 2021, the ST SONGEUN Building is a testament to the innovative vision of Herzog & de Meuron, combining the SONGEUN Art and Cultural Foundation’s art spaces with the headquarters of ST International. Established in 1989, the Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art and culture. The architects’ primary focus was to create an environment that fosters connection between art and people while accommodating the needs of artists, curators, and the public.
SONGEUN Art Space Technical Information
- Architects1-4: Herzog & de Meuron
- Location: 92-9,92-10, Cheongdam Dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
- Client: SONGEUN Art and Cultural Foundation & ST International
- Topics: Art Gallery, Auditoriums, Triangular Shapes, Skyscrapers
- Site Area: 1179 m2 | 12,690 ft2
- Gross Area: 8167 m2 | 87,908 ft2
- Project Year: 2016 – 2021
- Photographs: Courtesy of Herzog & Meuron
When Herzog & de Meuron was commissioned to design the new SONGEUN Art Space in 2016, the ambition was clear: to create a cultural anchor that invites the public and broadens the exposure of Korean artists to the international contemporary art scene.– Herzog & Meuron Architects
Songeun Art Space Photographs
Text by the Architects
A new home for SONGEUN and the people of Seoul
The new ST SONGEUN Building houses art spaces for the SONGEUN Art and Cultural Foundation – a non-profit organization established in 1989 – together with headquarter offices for ST International. Our experience designing contemporary museums increasingly focuses on how we can bring art and people together.
How can we make a space that works for the art and the artist, for the curator and the public?
When Herzog & de Meuron was commissioned to design the new SONGEUN Art Space in 2016, the ambition was clear: to create a cultural anchor that invites the public and broadens the exposure of Korean artists to the international contemporary art scene. By offering non-commercial art spaces within one of the most commercial areas of Seoul, the project aims to strengthen SONGEUN’s presence and significantly contribute to the city’s cultural topography and diversity.
A precise geometry in the heart of Cheongdam Dong
The site is located on the highest point of Dosan Daero, a thoroughfare located in Cheongdam Dong in southern Seoul, renowned for its international flagship stores, restaurants, and bars. While the neighborhood mainly consists of low-rise buildings, the zoning allows for higher density toward the main street. Catalyzed by the area’s rapid transformation and densification, a myriad of volumetric strategies responding to various plot regulations sit along the street front. A sharp triangular volume distinguishes the ST SONGEUN Building.
Resulting from the envelope specified for the site, the building’s unified form maximizes the allotted floor area while exploring the sculptural potential of the zoning law. A tall front facade faces the main street and hosts the building’s core, and a low back facade faces the garden, where a more intimate scale defines the surrounding neighborhood. With 11 stories aboveground and 5 floors underground, the completed building comprises over 8000 square meters.
A cultural anchor open to the city
The building expresses difference and openness despite, or rather because of, its hermetic street side. A cut out of the base invites visitors from the street to the main lobby and the intimate garden, open to the public at all times. At the entrance, a column wrapped in a seamless LED screen acts as an attractive lantern announcing current shows and a further place to present artistic content.
On the west side of the building, the car ramp is treated as a sculptural volume. The curve of the descending ramp carves an opening in the ceiling of the underground exhibition space, connecting this sunken gallery to the activity, sound, and light at street level. With its concrete walls, this cave-like space contrasts with the reflective finishes of silver leaf lining the ramp’s interior and parking space beneath.
The ramp spirals around a triple-height void and defines the geometry of the grand staircase, which acts as both a threshold and auditorium space for screenings and lectures, leading to the second-floor galleries. An experimental and unexpected mix of art spaces, offices, and public areas unfolds above and below ground, creating a new urban complex that invites the public to engage with contemporary art in Seoul.
“Hidden Pine Tree”: a face for SONGEUN
Enhancing the facade’s continuous surface, the building is cut by only a few defining apertures. Two tall vertical windows puncture the south facade and create framed views of the city. A triangular opening spans between levels 3 to 8 on the east, while the rear is almost completely glazed behind a layer of balconies that bring light and air into the offices.
The concrete mass not only carries the entire structure but also defines all space and ornamental surfaces. Using larch plywood boards rotated in a 1-by-1 meter grid, the concrete facade is imprinted with wood grain patterns and expresses the meaning behind the name SONGEUN: “Hidden Pine Tree”. This unique texture invites the eye and hand to explore its different qualities, bringing the building’s urban presence down to a tactile human scale.
Songeun Art Space Plans
Songeun Art Space Image Gallery
About Herzog & de Meuron
Herzog & de Meuron is a renowned Swiss architecture firm founded by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in 1978. The firm is globally recognized for its innovative designs and has been involved in the creation of numerous iconic buildings and structures around the world. Known for their attention to detail, materiality, and collaboration with artists, Herzog & de Meuron have been awarded numerous prestigious prizes, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2001. Some of their most notable works include the Tate Modern in London, the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
- Partners: Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Andreas Fries, Martin Knüsel (Partner in Charge)
- Project Team: Eduardo Salgado Mordt (Project Manager), Florian Stroh (Project Manager), Keunyoung Ryu (Project Manager), David Nunes Solomon (Project Manager), Valentin Abend, José Amorim, Pablo Garrido, Jorge Guerra, Jeff Jang, Ludwig Kissling, Alonso Mortera, Nicolas Mourot, Sorav Partap, Anna Salvioni, Ga In Sim, André Vergueiro
- Executive Planning Architect: Junglim Architecture, Seoul, Korea
- Consulting: HanmiGlobal Co., LTD, Seoul, Korea