The award-winning Amsterdam-based practice UNStudio – Ben van Berkel has realised this 66,000-square-meters department store located in the Korean city of Cheonan. Called Galleria Centercity, the building has been completed in 2010 and, as explained by the architects behind the project, ‘responds to the current retail climate in Asia, where department stores also operate as social and semi-cultural meeting places. Because of this, the quality of the public spaces within the building was treated as an integral aspect of the design.’
From the architects:
‘If museums are turning into supermarkets, why then should department stores not turn into museums?
UNStudio’s Galleria Centercity Department Store in the Korean city of Cheonan reclaims the social and cultural space within the private, commercial large scale department store. An expanded interpretation of utility beyond efficiency and profitability is at the heart of the design. In view of this, along with a more varied programme, UNStudio’s design seeks to provide a stimulating experience for the visitor. On the outside, this is translated into an appearance that is almost impossible to fix. The double-layered facades are articulated in a trompe l’oeuil pattern of vertical mullions. The vertical lines on the façade make the scale of the building unreadable; does it contain three floor levels, or fifteen? On the inside, this play with scale and dimension is continued in a way that is at least as radical as the outside.’
‘Upon entering, the department store is revealed as a layered and varied space which encourages investigation and unfolds as you move through and up the building. Programmatically, the Galleria Cheonan incorporates a number of cultural and public spaces, including an art and cultural centre and a vip room. In the basement, a food court and specialty supermarket constitute another distinct destination within the building, which is simultaneously integrated with the overall design strategy.’
‘The strategy for the building enclosure consists of creating an optical illusion. During the day the building has a monochrome reflective appearance, whilst at night soft colours are used to generate waves of coloured light across the large scale illuminated surface. The lighting design was developed in parallel with the architecture and capitalises on the double layered facade structure. Computer generated animations specially designed by UNStudio are incorporated into the lighting design and refer to themes related to the department store, such as fashion, events, art and public life.’