For the architects, the competition to design a concert hall honoring composer Isang Yun in Tongyeong, South Korea, began with a trip to Korea to see the site: a plot of land on a large island with commanding views of the downtown district and the various surrounding mountainous islands. The site sits sixty feet above the ocean and is exposed on all sides. To understand how the view would change in the future with the presence of the symphony hall complex, the architectural team went out on a ferry boat to see the site from the water.
At the onset, this musical compound was going to be dedicated to the Korean composer Isang Yun (1917-1995), who authored symphonies and chamber works, many of them based on the twelve-tone principle, and in later years on the main-tone technique. Yun remains a controversial figure: equally a national hero and a villain. During WWII, he opposed the Japanese occupation of Korea and joined the resistance. He moved to Europe and eventually settled in West Berlin in the late fifties. In 1963 he took a trip to North Korea that lead to a string of unfortunate events. Kidnapped from his Berlin home in 1967, he was sentenced to life in prison in South Korea. Public outcry from governments and musicians, led by Igor Stravinsky, made his release possible, but he could never return to his homeland. During the last half of his life he was honored in North Korea, and many of his most well known symphonies premiered there; however, he was persona non-grata in South Korea. Now revered by many, especially in his hometown, he still stirs political controversy. In the middle of the competition, government intervention deflected the original intention to honor Yun; all that remains is a small memorial to commemorate his artistic achievements.
The architects designed a number of different schemes, all of them referencing, in one way or another, the intensity and vibrancy of Yun’s music. Scheme 33, known as the Crashing Waves, evokes the composer’s artistic intentions: to make out of clashing an ordering principle unbridled in its potential.
Crashing Waves comprises two parts: the upper part, with its metaphorical frozen undulation of water waves, and the podium, which at a ground level starts as a landform that mimics the ocean. The calm water at the base builds into a spatial crescendo culminating in vertical glass elements that define the lobby. These elongated pieces become sculptural, slightly arching into emblematic foam and abstracted waves crashing together. Access to the complex is modulated by a series of fluid ramps that extend from the entry doors down to the parking lot. Fluid shapes endow the design with movement. The conceptual footprint suggests the ocean, the music, and the two Koreas coming together, so that the proposed architecture resonates with the composer’s musical sensibility.
The program consists of a 14,377 sm project, on a 33,000 sm site. The two major program elements are a 1,300 seat Concert Hall and a 300 seat Recital Hall, along with support areas. In addition, there are education facilities and a memorial to Isang Yun.
Location Tongyeong, South Korea
Gansam Architects and Partners, Seoul, South Korea
Renderings by Form4 Architecture / Downtown
F4 Team: John Marx
2017 Special Mention, German Design Council
2016 Award Nominee, German Design Council
2015 Iconic Award Winner, German Design Council
2014 Future Projects/Competition Award Shortlisted, World Architecture Festival
2014 Public Building Concept - Honorable Mention, Re-thinking the Future Awards