Retail & Architecture – Global architecture firm OMA founded by Rem Koolhaas and South Korean studio Gansam have completed The Galleria department store in the city of Gwanggyo, just 40 minutes south of Seoul. The building as been conceived as “a place where retail and culture, city and nature collide, offering a get away from the predictability of shopping”.
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The store is the sixth branch of The Galleria, Korea’s first and largest upscale luxury department store franchise. The building’s quirky stone-like appearance rises at the center of a young urban development surrounded by tall residential towers, becoming a natural point of gravity for public life in Gwanggyo.
The store is located between the the city’s lake park and ubiquitous buildings: “an intersection between nature and the urban environment,” explain at OMA. Indeed, the it features “a textured mosaic stone façade that evokes nature of the neighbouring park. Appearing as a sculpted stone emerging from the ground, the store is a visual anchor in the city.”
A public route is excavated from the stone volume and connects the public side walk to a roof garden—including both retail and cultural activities. It also introduces an revolutionary and innovative element to the traditional typology of department stores in Korea for not enclosing guests into a shopping space but inviting them to look outside the building as well.
The public route has a multifaceted glass façade that contrasts with the opacity of the stone. Through the glass, retail and cultural activities inside are revealed to the city’s passers-by, while visitors in the interior acquire new vantage points to experience Gwanggyo. Formed with a sequence of cascading terraces, the public loop offers spaces for exhibitions and performances.
‘With a public loop deliberately designed for cultural offerings, Galleria in Gwanggyo is a place where visitors engage with architecture and culture as they shop. They leave with a unique retail experience blended with pleasant surprises after each visit,” says OMA partner Chris van Duijn who led the project.
All photos by © Hong Sung Jun – courtesy of OMA.