National Museum of World Writing
Cultural | Museum
Incheon | Korea
2017 | International Competition

As a bellweather for contemporary culture and a mediator for the ways in which we view the past, museums play an increasingly vital role. Through preservation and public display, they offer perhaps one of the last truly idealistic and collective experiences left in modern society. They have the ability to answer curiosity, tie us to an oft forgotten past, and mold our understanding of the world in which we live.

The National Museum of World Writing will celebrate written language in all of its forms, yet will task its researchers and visitors to advance their cultural awareness whilst considering the collection. Similarly, rather than acting as a neutral backdrop for exhibits, the museum’s architecture will be physically engaging. The Museum will interject itself as an active participant in humanity’s progress.

The National Museum of World Writing is ultimately a connector. The architecture seams together the life of the city, its curated interior, and the nature of Songdo Central Park. As a very public entity, the Museum also connects seemingly disparate cultures through its mission of preserving culturally significant writing. Through its exchange of policy and ideas, the Museum aids humanity in navigating an ever changing world. Museum and building as ‘Cultural Compass.’

The Museum will have a distinct identity that plays a major role in the city’s future, embedding itself in the urban fabric, while acting as a mediator between the built and natural realms. This begins first by directly engaging the public, as multiple entrances cater to various means of arrival. At the front, pedestrians transition from sidewalk to steps leading up a landscaped element, one of the new Songdo Hills (not yet evident is that the curved wall overhead is actually an extension of the interior space). When arriving by car or bus, rather than walk across a parking lot, visitors move up to the Floating Garden, which then cuts, as a canyon, through the Museum. There is also direct access for those being dropped-off or coming for classroom purposes.

The interior space is oriented around the lobby at the canyon’s base, off of which all programs intersect. The lobby floor itself houses a free small temporary exhibit, ticketing/info, shop, and reflecting pool. From this vantage point, direct access is available to the auditorium, special exhibition, educational program and permanent exhibits. Beyond the lobby, bonus programs are found, such as the public amphitheater and gardens. Overhead, the canyon rises and twists into a light-filled atrium, the walls of which are embedded with lights that can be programmed by invited artists and scholars. The skylight at the top of the atrium orients to true north/south.

Project Size: 165,000SF
Site: Songdo Central Park
Project Team: Christopher Warren, Carmelia Chiang, Sarah Davis, Junho Han