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Competition: National Museum of World Writing, South Korea

Contest site: National Museum of World Writing in Songdo

The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has announced an open international contest for a £40 million National Museum of World Writing in Songdo

The competition seeks proposals for a 15,650m2 landmark museum dedicated to world literature within the pioneering smart city’s landmark Central Park area. The project aims to deliver a new ‘Larchivium’ where the functions of a library, archive and museum are combined.

Proposals for the new structure – intended to attract tourists and drive creative interest in the futuristic urban vision of Songdo – must feature a large multipurpose exhibition hall, six galleries, public areas, offices, lecture halls and a storage zone.

The competition brief says that the new museum ‘plans on realising diverse social, cultural, and educational values by developing and supplying creative cultural contents.

‘Such exhibit space demands proposals for various methods to allow more intimate interaction between the exhibit and visitors, not simply looking at the exhibited artefacts.’

The Songdo International Business District (SIBD) is a pioneering smart city development planned to complete in 2018. The district is around 65km south-west of Seoul within the Incheon Free Economic Zone. 

The huge waterfront development, masterplanned by KPF, broke ground in 2004 and received a multibillion injection of government funding eight years ago. The project aims to set a new international standard for green and low-carbon urban design, harnessing high-tech infrastructure for waste management and transport.

Known as Songdo City, the 600ha development is being built on a large area of land reclaimed for the Yellow Sea. The district is home to South Korea’s second tallest tower, the North East Asia Trade Tower, designed by KPF.

Contest site: National Museum of World Writing in Songdo

Contest site: National Museum of World Writing in Songdo

Contest site: National Museum of World Writing in Songdo

Other KPF-designed schemes within Songdo include a Canal Walk and ‘Superblock’ residential development. HOK has also designed a 50-storey Central Park-style blocks

Attractions within the city’s Central Park zone – inspired by New York and Venice – include the Hanok village, TriBowl Cultural Center, a boat house and popular facilities such as a ‘Rabbit Island’, a deer farm and long walking promenades.

The National Museum of World Writing project aims to enhance this emerging landscape. Around one-fifth of the project’s total budget is set aside for the design and construction of a grand exhibition hall, which will be the centrepiece of the venue, featuring events and exhibits to draw visitors from around the world.

The competition languages are English and Korean. Any international winner will be required to team up with a locally registered firm to deliver their scheme.

Submissions may feature up to six A1-sized landscape featuring diagrams along with up to 15 sides of A4 with written descriptions.

The overall winner, to be announced on 15 September, will receive the design commission while a second place prize of around £35,000 and third place prize of £21,000 will also be awarded along with two honourable mentions worth around £7,000 each.

The registration deadline is 6pm local time (GMT+9) on 2 June and submissions must be completed by 6pm local time on 1 September.

How to apply

View the competition website for more information

Contact details

Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism
Government Complex-Sejong
388 Galmae-ro
Republic of Korea

Tel: +82-44-203-2000