Sejong Museum Gardens
Office OU has been announced as the winner of South Korea’s International Competition for the National Museum Complex Master Plan of the New Administrative City (Sejong City). Chosen as the winning design among a field of 81 entries from 26 countries around the world, Office OU’s Sejong Museum Gardens will play a crucial role in shaping the cultural landscape of South Korea’s new metropolis. The competition entry was made in collaboration with Junglim Architecture as the local architect of record.
Sejong City, the new administrative city of South Korea, shifts many of the national government’s functions south from Seoul. Already home to 36 government agencies and over 300,000 residents, Sejong City’s growing political and administrative importance will be complemented by what the competition promoters hailed as a “world-class cultural complex that will be on par with Berlin’s Museuminsel, Vienna’s Museumsquartier, and Washington D.C’s Smithsonian museums.” Situated in the heart of the nascent city along the bank of the Geum River, Sejong’s National Museum Complex will be a major cultural center for all of Korea, hosting a diverse range of new institutions. Museums devoted to Architecture and the City, Design, Digital Heritage, Natural History and Korea’s Archival Traditions will join Office OU’s National Children’s Museum, along with a number of smaller institutions. In total, nearly a dozen museums—an exact number has yet to be set—will be spread throughout the site.
Office OU’s master plan for the 190,000 m² site combines the remarkable and diverse surrounding landscape (rice paddies, wetlands, forests, riverbanks, urban fabric), with the basic logic of Korea’s Joeseon Dynasty palace architecture. Like the palace, Sejong Museum Gardens uses a consistent architectural language throughout, but differentiates itself through changes in scale, and in response to the natural topography. Its architecture does not strive to be iconic in itself, but instead acts as a frame or vessel for landscape, drawing it into a set of courtyards and forecourts. Each museum’s identity is reinforced by thematic links to an associated landscape.
For example, the productive orchard landscape that characterizes the Children’s Museum invites kids to play and explore the space. The Archives Museum will be set within a mountainous topography, fostering an appropriate sense of seclusion and security.
The Architecture Museum is defined by hard landscaping with a distinctly urban feel, relating to the city’s developing retail and arts district across the Che Creek. In naming the project Sejong Museum Gardens, the garden is recognized as a vital link between culture and nature. Our hope is that the project can give the people of Sejong—and South Korea—a place to understand and nurture this relationship.