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Korea’s new capital opens museum district contest

South Korea
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An open international competition has been launched for a new £174 million museums quarter in Sejong, South Korea

Backed by the National Agency for Administrative City Construction – the anonymous contest seeks ‘future-oriented, and creative’ proposals for the high-profile 190,000m2 development.

Dubbed the National Museum Complex (NMC) – the project will deliver five separate museums alongside supporting facilities and new green spaces in its 75,000m2 first phase.

Planned structures include a National Archives Museum, National Design Museum, National Architecture and City Museum, National Digital Heritage Museum and a National Children’s Museum.

Located around 120 kilometres south of Seoul, Sejong – also known as Administrative City – became the country’s de-facto capital four years ago.

According to the contest brief: ‘The NMC would like to function as a platform of the entire city’s cultural network, making itself a catalyst for a global culture city.

‘The NMC is expected to provide the Administrative City with creative power by securing cultural identity and symbolic property not only for local community but also for the nation.’

The document continued: ‘The NMC will realise the Administrative City’s environment-friendly value and vision of harmonizing inhabitants with nature, providing citizen with open space and integrating with surrounding environments such as the Che creek, Geum river, Central Park, and Jeonwol mountain.’

Surrounding a central park and lake, the 270 hectare capital city will host 37 government departments and 500,000 residents when it completes in 2030.



NMC contest site

Participants will submit a general plan for the entire NMC alongside a masterplan for the 75,000m2 opening phase during the competition’s first round.

Five shortlisted teams will then receive around £30,000 each to develop a more detailed masterplan and architectural designs for the opening phase’s first stage which features the National Children’s Museum, a central storehouse, and a central operations centre.

The National Archives Museum, National Design Museum, National Architecture and City Museum and National Digital Heritage Museum all feature in the opening phase’s second stage.

A natural history museum, up to five further museums and other supporting amenities will be delivered in the complex’s 115,000m2 second phase.

Proposals are expected to reflect the city’s and Korea’s cultural identity, provide generous open spaces for citizens and promote new discussions about urban development and social change.

Nearby landmarks include Samoo’s competition-winning National Library of Sejong City and Balmori Associates’ 3.5 kilometre-long government complex.

Completed in 2014, the iconic seven-storey building – inspired by an Oriental dragon – features a continuous green roof with government offices below.

Judges include Christoper Sharples of New York-based SHoP architects and Yongmi Kim of Korea’s GS Architects & Associates.

The overall winner will receive the design contract with fees for the initial buildings expected to be worth around £2 million. Six honourable mentions from the contest’s first round will also receive approximately £3,500.

The deadline for submissions is 13 July.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information

Contact details

Architecture and Urban Research Institute

Email: museum@auri.re.kr

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