Fantastic space filled with stories of nature

Healing Stay Kosmos

Chan-joong Kim | Republic of Korea

Ulleungdo Island is a small volcanic island in the East Sea where nature mostly remains intact, barely touched. Healing Stay Kosmos is a luxury hotel perched on a cliff edge next to Songgotsan Mountain on the island. When architect Chan-joong Kim first visited the island to plan his design, he decided to create a “vessel” to reflect the tranquil yet dynamic elements of nature that have existed here for thousands of centuries: the sun and the moon rising and setting; the breaking waves; and the clouds floating high in the sky. That is why the hotel is named “Kosmos.”

To realize this design concept, Kim gathered computer data of astronomical and meteorological observatories during the early phase of the design. He designed a swirling structure, which takes into consideration the movements of the sun and the moon as seen from the hotel. The six spiraling wings that stretch outwards from the center, are the most crucial elements of the hotel’s architectural form. Each wing houses an independent unit. Once you enter each space, the curved walls temporarily block the outdoor landscape, but the picturesque views gradually unfold as you walk and then you can enjoy different sceneries depending on the room you choose.

Kim wanted to create a hotel that had a light and pleasant atmosphere and would not interfere with the magnificent landscape of the island. In order to accomplish his goal, he applied cast-in-place concrete1 technology using ultra high performance concrete to build the entire façade on the site. As a result, a graceful and sleek looking exterior (12cm thick at maximum) allowed for a flexible interior space without pillars, letting visitors to be immersed in and enjoy the beauty of the building and the surrounding landscapes.

Dokdo Island (Natural Monument no. 336) is 87.4km southeast of Ulleungdo Island. Tour ferries are offered (1:40hrs) from Ulleungdo Island to Dokdo Island, weather permitting.
• Taeha Lighthouse & Hyangmok Observatory
• Naesujeon Observatory
• Dokdo Museum
88-13 Chusan-gil, Buk-myeon, Ulleung-gun, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Take ferry from Mukho Passenger Terminal in Donghae-si, Hupohang Passenger Terminal in Uljin-gun, Gangneunghang Passenger Terminal in Gangneung-si, or Pohang Passenger Terminal in Pohang-si to Cheonbuhang Port, Jeodonghang Port, Dodonghang Port, or Sadonghang Port in Ulleungdo Island then take shuttle bus (3 shuttles/day) or taxi (30–40mins) to hotel.
Finest relaxation by the ocean

Seamarq Hotel

Richard Meier | United States

Since long ago, eight beautiful scenic spots on the east coast of Korea were praised by locals as the “Eight Scenic Views of Gwangdong,” and Gyeongpodae Pavilion in Gangneung is touted as the most beautiful among them. Not far from the pavilion, is Seamarq Hotel, built facing the beautiful East Sea on the site of the former Hyundai Hotel Gyeongpodae.

The late founder of Hyundai Group, Ju-yung Chung, frequented Hyundai Hotel, and on what would have been Chung’s 100th birthday, Hyundai decided to build a new hotel on the site, and chose Richard Meier as the architect to portray Chung’s poise and appreciation for the arts in his new creation. Meier is known for his pursuit of harmony with nature while highlighting natural landscapes with the prominent use of the color white and refined designs.

You can see the architect’s style upon entering the lobby of Seamarq Hotel, which was named by combining the English word “Sea” and the French word “de marque” (meaning “high-class,” or “branded”). A panoramic view of the East Sea unfolds beyond the Golden Ribbon, an impressive light fixture designed by German designer Ingo Maurer. In addition, a long wooden table under the light fixture naturally connects nature, space, and people. Visitors are often drawn to the table by the relaxing ambiance and refreshing view of the ocean. Meier’s careful consideration can be seen in the hotel’s 150 guestrooms. Each room is the product of minimalistic design with high ceilings (3m) and minimal furniture. In particular, you can enjoy ocean views from anywhere in the room since the bathroom, bedroom and balcony are all aligned, and most of the bathroom walls are made of glass. The infinity pool on the fifth floor is also an iconic spot that creates the visual effect of water extending to the ocean. You can relax on a sunbed and enjoy the blue waters and clear sky, while surrounded by the comforting sound of the splashing waves.

Seamarq Hotel has a hanok (traditional Korean house)-style annex called “Ho An Jae.” Comprised of four buildings—Munganchae, Sarangchae, Anchae, and Byeolchae— the traditional-style facilities are equipped with modern interior amenities.

• Gyeongpoho Lake
Gangneung Seongyojang House
• Ojukheon House & Municipal Museum
• Charmsori Gramophone & Edison Science Museum
• Gangneung Coffee Street
• Haslla Art World

2 Haean-ro 406beon-gil, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do
Taxi (10mins) from KTX Gangneung Station
Forest of lights filled with noble memories

Asia Culture Center

Kyu-sung Woo | Republic of Korea

The Asia Culture Center is located in Gwangju, known as the “City of Light” and symbol of Korea’s modern democratization movement. Especially, the former Jeollanam-do provincial government office in Gwangju holds historical significance as the center of the May 1980 Democratic Movement. In 2005, the Korean government and the civic society discussed how to preserve and utilize the former provincial government office, ultimately concluding to transform the area into an Asian cultural hub for creation and exchange. For this, an international architectural design contest was held, and the winner was “Forest of Light” by architect Kyu-sung Woo over Korea and the US.

When working on the proposal, Woo wanted to design a space that preserved history while also connecting to the future, in consideration of the site’s historical significance. He also paid attention to the fact that compared to other large cities in Korea, Gwangju has far less greenery. Based on such considerations, the Asia Culture Center was completed as the “Forest of Light” as intended by the architect.

Without high buildings, the ground area was developed into a park, and major facilities were built below ground level. Due to such layout, the former Jeollanam-do provincial government office and Mudeungsan Mountain can be seen from the Center. Additionally, several skylights were installed on the ground of the park to allow natural light to enter the underground spaces during the day, and subtly illuminate the park at night, literally creating a “Forest of Light.”

The Center studies Asian culture, collects cultural assets, creates cultural content based on collected data and research, stages performances using the cultural content, and widely promotes Korean culture across the world, creating a virtuous circle. As such, the Asia Culture Center recreates and discovers the true value of Asian culture and then shares it with the rest of the world.

As a UNESCO Media Arts Creative City, the Gwangju Metropolitan City hosts the Gwangju Media Art Festival ( every October. Various media art exhibitions, performances and activity programs are held in and around the Asia Culture Center.
• Gwangju Art Street
• Chungjang-ro Street
• Daein Market
• Yangnim History & Culture Village
38 Munhwajeondang-ro, Dong-gu, Gwangju
1-min walk from Exit 3 of Culture Complex Station, Gwangju Subway Line 1
Free (varies by facility)
10:00–18:00 (Closed on Mondays and Jan 1)
Writer by yun sin-yong | Photo by KTO
Client KTO | Production D.gram(Korean Architecture Tour) ⓒ All Rights Reserved.
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