Architects Wrap South Korean Department Store in Glittering Glass Walkway

Facade of the Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

As South Korea's first and largest upscale department store, The Galleria already has a well-established presence. So, it only makes sense that owners Hanwha would want to make a splash with the opening of their sixth store. To that end, they turned to Rem Koolhaas' OMA to create a memorable structure that reflects their high-end sensibilities.

Located in Gwanggyo, south of Seoul, the contemporary building is set off by a serpentine diamond that cuts through the mosaic stone facade. Its pixelated pattern provides a texture that brings movement and lightness to what might have otherwise been a heavy piece of architecture. OMA conceived the building as a “sculpted stone emerging from the ground” in an effort to provide the neighborhood with a “visual anchor.”

The multi-faceted glass that slices through the facade acts as a public walkway for visitors to traverse the retail and cultural spaces located in the interior. Throughout the day, as light changes and bounces off the glass, the building takes on different guises while the glow of interior lights gives glimpses of what lays inside.

“On every level there is a relationship among the loop, the central space, and the surrounding shops,” explains OMA partner Chris van Duijn. “The route is sometimes excavated from the building, eating its way through the stone, and other times the glass openly exits the facade, creating a steel structure of regular triangular grids.”

Sprawling across 10 floors, The Galleria includes a food market, cinema, cultural center, and roof garden as well as traditional retail spaces. Its addition to Gwanggyo, which is a young city, has added a spark of individuality to the planned urban landscape and will surely become a cultural beacon as the area continues to develop.

OMA has designed The Galleria, a new department store in Gwanggyo, South Korea.

Aerial View of the Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

A glass-faceted walkway slices across the mosaic stone facade and allows the public to move across different floors.

Detail of the Facade of the Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

Interior of the Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

The architects designed The Galleria as a “visual anchor” for this new city south of Seoul.

Galleria Department Store in Gwanggyo, South Korea

OMA: Website | Facebook | Instagram

All images via Hong Sung Jun, courtesy of OMA.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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