FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
UNStudio's Galleria Centercity Department Store in the Korean city of Cheonan reclaims the social and cultural space within the private, commercial large scale department store.
Rather than being the outcome of a prescriptive, standard-critical approach, the design of the Galleria Centercity is based on observations of current behavioural tendencies in large commercial spaces. Particularly in South East Asia, department stores serve a highly social function; people meet, gather, eat, drink and both shop and window shop in these venues. The department store is no longer solely a commercial space, it now offers the architect the opportunity to build upon and expand the social and cultural experience of the visitor. If today we are seeing the museum as a supermarket, then we are also now seeing the department store as a museum.
An expanded interpretation of utility beyond efficiency and profitability is at the heart of the design. In view of this, along with a more varied programme, UNStudio’s design seeks to provide a stimulating experience for the visitor.
On the outside, this is translated into an appearance that is almost impossible to fix. The double layered facades are articulated in a trompe l’oeuil pattern of vertical mullions. The vertical lines on the façade make the scale of the building unreadable; does it contain three floor levels, or fifteen? On the inside, this play with scale and dimension is continued in a way that is at least as radical as the outside. Upon entering, the department store is revealed as a layered and varied space which encourages investigation and unfolds as you move through and up the building.
Programmatically, the Galleria Cheonan incorporates a number of cultural and public spaces, including an art and cultural centre and a VIP room. In the basement, a food court and specialty supermarket constitute another distinct destination within the building, which is simultaneously integrated with the overall design strategy.
Media facade - The largest illuminated surface of its kind in the world
The strategy for the building enclosure consists of creating an optical illusion. During the day the building has a monochrome reflective appearance, whilst at night soft colours are used to generate waves of coloured light across the large scale illuminated surface. The lighting design was developed in parallel with the architecture and capitalises on the double layered facade structure. Computer generated animations specially designed by UNStudio are incorporated into the lighting design and refer to themes related to the department store, such as fashion, events, art and public life.