The Galleria shopping center has opened its doors in Gwanggyo, South Korea, with a spectacular building that pretends to be a huge rock.
Many times we wonder how architecture can help shape pleasant places where we can carry out our daily, pleasant and urgent activities. No doubt. Buying is an act that meets these three conditions, and a shopping center is, therefore, a place that all people are obliged to visit, a place where we necessarily immerse ourselves in order to buy the necessary, the everyday, the extraordinary and, of course, where we can spend our free time.
Last March, in the middle of the battle against the coronavirus in South Korea, a very special shopping center opened its doors, which belong to The Galleria brand. It is located in a city called Gwanggyo, a newly minted city executed in this millennium as part of a great urban development plan. We’re talking about the sixth and most impressive branch of Hanwha Galleria, the nation’s largest luxury retail company, founded in the 1970s.
A 12-story, cube-shaped shopping mall
The architecture studio that was in charge of the design is the Dutch OMA, based in seven countries and four continents, which generates huge profits, as well as many headaches … Something that is compensated when you get involved in projects like this, of that there is no doubt, and the compensation, obviously, is not only economic.
The studio put one of its partners, Chris van Duijn, in charge of the project, and architect Patrizia Zobernig as project leader, who contributed to the construction of the spectacular building.
The building has twelve floors, which house about 73,721 square meters built. It is outlined as an almost perfect cube, which simulates a rocky texture, rotated in a spiral by a set of triangular crystals. This reminds me of the Benetton dome in the old Palace of the Military Union in Rome. And it is that good ideas take new forms when they are perfectly adapted to new constructions.
A facade created from 14 types of granite and glass crystals
The designers took advantage of the location of the department store between the Suwon Gwanggyo Lake, a large park, and the nearby residential towers, to develop the image of a rocky section, a huge stone or earthly unit, that emerges from the subsoil and has a part of it crystallized.
An element not at all out of context that evokes a bit of the Zen philosophy, with a stone in a natural environment, water and others. Of course, the contrast of the perfect textured block between the city and the park is a great success.
For this work some 125,000 platelets of fourteen types of natural granites of different colors were needed: beige, brown and earthy. In addition, 1,451 triangular glasses of different dimensions were also used.
With this we can imagine that the facade required the efficiency and help of computer programs, what in the world we call BIM (Building Information Modeling). But, like any good play, the crystals hide a secret, a secret to go through.
The spectacular glass stairs
However, before continuing with the secret, we will let you know about the rest of the team, or a very important part of it. The work could not have been carried out without the support of an architecture firm in the country, in this case, the solvent Gansam Architects & Partners. Of course, no construction goes ahead without a lead contract, in this case it was Hanwha Engineering & Construction corp.
VS-A, Withworks, and facade specialist DAEHYE Interior Design & Architecture were involved in the complicated façade. And it is that, without a good team, no project goes well, a homegrown Zen message.
Now let’s go back to our building. A large complex with a glass strip that goes around it… What better excuse to locate some stairs? Yes, the glass hides inside the stairs and areas of enjoyment of the building.
It serves as a 540-meter-long circuit, through which users discover the different sections of each floor. At the end of the tour, the prize: a cultural center and a garden at the architectural peak, the highest and most important part of the building.
Fashion, leisure, food and a luxurious construction
Along the way you will find a grocery store and a delicatessen section in the basement of the complex. In total, eight retail floors, with jewelery and accessories for women, men and children. Two other floors for sports and home, with different zonal designs according to needs, as well as stairs, elevators and central toilets.
And the last three floors have a large cinema, game rooms, restaurants and entertainment areas. In short, no one is going to spend a boring day in such a splendid shopping center.
Despite the general alarmism, the collective hysteria that leads us to think that everything is going to change, that the world will never be the same again, that we have to rethink cities and our forms of commerce or industry, time will set things instead.
We will see that, when we find the vaccine for Covid-19, our lives will return to normality and daily life vital for our existence. Nothing. I repeat. Nothing that has happened before has been able to subjugate humanity, therefore there is no reason to think that this virus will.