The OS+A studio decided to apply to the international competition for the National Museum of World Writing in South Korea. Writing is an efficient method of recording and presenting changes in a permanent form. This invention has been driven by the practical necessity of exchanging information, codifying laws, recording history and cultural reasons such as maintaining traditions, spreading knowledge as well as the formation of legal systems. All the various writing techniques have a common denominator, even if they are completely different and structurally unrelated to each other. They were born from the necessity to communicate and preserve memory and knowledge.
This common ground between the different writing systems can be represented with a tree where the trunk is the core (the necessity from which everything starts) and the branches are the different writing systems that developed based on any particular culture, its influences, location, etc.
The building proposed by the studio wants to investigate this relationship. The central circular core is the main distribution element: it is the trunk from which the museum takes shape and develops around. Each floor represents one branch of the tree and the core is the generative element which they stem from.
Different offsets from the core perimeter define the depth of each floor and in the same way, the two lines tangential to the core define the sides. The resulting proportions of the slices obtained by this are driven by the program needs and area requirements of the overall massing.
The site is the element that defines the orientation of the branches. Each floor has a specific orientation according with the views surrounding the site whether it is towards the waterspace, the Central Park or the city. The museum building is located on the north-east area of the site. The main entrance at ground level is provided with visitors facilities and it is a slice derived from the core in the same way of all other floors. It is oriented towards the south-east promenade, this being the main pedestrian connection to the museum site.
The building is detached from the site by a circular water pond and it highlights the centrality of the core as a main distribution element and generative organ of the tree system. The only connection to the building’s ground level happens at the main entrance through three large bridges.
The floor slice rotations together with the main water blade and the landscape design generate outdoor spaces for related learning, recreational activities and advertising purposes.
The rhythm of the area subdivision reflects the design intent starting at the west perimeter of the site with a series of smaller and more fragmented areas that represent the beginnings of writing. This is an analogy to “proto-writing“, when there wasn’t any words grammatically encoded but a series of graphic symbols that made difficult or impossible to reconstruct the exact meaning intended by the writer unless a great deal of context was already known in advance. Towards the east side the landscape merges with the museum at its heart, the core that represents “true writing” and the writing system developed in an organized and structured organism. It is from this point that the museum design concept starts to flourish as a harmonic continuation of the writing journey.
OS+A is an architectural practice interested and specialized in the study of natural organic landscapes and how they can be re-interpreted and applied to everyday needs for living, work and play in the modern era. They are a dedicated practice, a result from a long collaboration in different offices world-wide. Their philosophy aims at the constant study and re-evaluation of methods and ideas, looking at architecture as the ground for new discoveries and uncharted horizons.