Leeum Samsung Museum of Art

seoul, south korea

client: leeum, samsung museum of art

From its mountainside perch overlooking Seoul, the Samsung Museum of Art Complex boasts museums by three of the world’s most sought-after architects: Rem Koolhaas, Jean Nouvel and Mario Botta. Uniting these remarkable yet divergent works of architecture is a space of clean and powerful gestures. This elegant, understated landscape serves as their matrix and must perform multiple duties: make a welcoming first impression; connect with local transportation to orchestrate the visitor’s journey to and through the complex; and function as a stage for viewing the architectural ensemble and the sculptures.

Complementing rather than competing with its muscular surroundings, the landscape is designed to provide the visitor with a rich visual palette. She might rest on the long seat occupying the central platform; pause to admire the views from a series of terraced platforms leading down the slope, or enjoy the native plantings of azaleas, pine trees, densely-planted birch trees offsetting Nouvel’s dramatic gabion walls, and bamboo culms which serve as a backdrop for a fleetingly glorious mass of bulbs, all in muted shades of blue-gray. A directional paving pattern, identity graphics, and LED art installations help guide movement through the site. This dynamic, architectural landscape takes full advantage of its extraordinary setting, mediating between the fixed structures of the buildings and artworks and the sensory surprises of the urban garden in constant flux.