Galleries have long ago rid themselves of the image of stuffy buildings filled with “shhh” signs. The revolutions that redefined what constitutes art led to an explosion of creativity that required more open and flexible of spaces. SO-IL, fresh-off their success at the Frieze Art Fair in New York last month, where they erected a spectacular tent snaking along a river, continue their experience in creating art spaces with Kukje Gallery.
The Kukje Gallery is a central piece in SO-IL’s master plan for an arts campus of the Korean capital’s Sogyeok-dong District. The district is full of character with its alleyways and low-rise buildings becoming home to boutiques and coffee shops. In order not to disrupt this fabric too much, the cubic gallery stands only one floor above ground, with another three basement levels. While the purity of the simple cube is a reflection the clean space inside, the architects found the shape too rigid amongst its organic neighbors. So they got a little help from Front Inc. in making the façade a little softer. While the basic cube has been kept, an air-conditioning unit, the entrance and a cylinder on the side disrupt the shape. The irregularities were used to create a whole new shape by covering the entire building in a chain-link steel mesh. This mesh not only makes what was hard and angular softer, but also acts as a veil that creates different optical effects. It is undoubtedly the element that makes what was already a well thought out building, exceptional.
By staying sensitive to the surroundings and at the same time the functionality, SO-IL has built a gallery just as interesting and beautiful as the artifacts inside.