Architecture Competitions Museums

UNStudio edges out BIG, Snohetta and others to win Chungnam Art Museum competition in South Korea

July 20, 2021

UNStudio, in collaboration with DA Group, were this morning selected in a live presentation as the winners of the competition for the Chungnam Art Museum in South Korea

Fending off stiff competition from other renowned practices such as BIG, Steven Holl, Snohetta, Grafton and ALA, UNStudio and DA Group’s proposal for the Chungnam Art Museum was selected as the overall winning design at a jury meeting this morning.

The initial proposals (by UNStudio, BIG, Steven Holl, Snohetta, Grafton and ALA) were first whittled down to three, then two finalists, before the winning design was finally announced.

The winning consortium comprises design partners UNStudio and DA Group, Squint/Opera (digital content and exhibition design), Loos van Vliet (landscape design) and UNSense (community content).

UNStudio and DA Group’s design for the Chungnam Art Museum goes far beyond a traditional art museum. It is a fully immersive cultural and social experience for the whole community; a living, breathing space that will evolve over time. The museum is designed as a place of inspiration, participation and contribution – to both art and the community. It also aims to become one of the first zero-energy museums in South Korea.

The Chungnam Art Museum will provide a new form of interactive engagement between art and the public. It does this by turning the museum inside out, bringing in the city and community of Chungnam to create a diverse and vibrant cultural experience. For the future of the museum, the architects envisage the opportunity to create vibrant and interactive spaces through which art and technology can be experienced in new ways.

The Chungnam Art Museum will be a cultural community space that embraces flexibility and the concept of ‘art for all’ – now and for the future.

“Art has the power to bring people together. It inspires, it teaches and it fosters communities. The Chungnam Art Museum will be a place for people to experience this…and much more.”

Ben Van Berkel, co-founder and principal architect, UNStudio


The design for this smart art museum looks at new ways in which we can experience and share stories about art and design – both physically and digitally, and the architecture has to support this experience.

Keeping this in mind, the design incorporates two big, defining details into the design: a plateaued central courtyard and the Cultural Boulevard. These two ‘big details’ are crucial for creating communication spaces, as well as for the wayfinding, as they enable people to be guided on a continuous experience of space and art from multiple routes and angles.

The Cultural Boulevard is the central wayfinding element, as it combines the outside with the inside and provides links throughout the site, seamlessly blending art, culture and commerce.

From outside, the Cultural Boulevard connects the cultural plots with one another, and weaves the main access routes through the building and into the central courtyard. From here, plateaus also reach into the courtyard, offering multiple perceptions of the space.

The continuity of the Cultural Boulevard to the Arts Centre and the Library also activates the common functions. This is then balanced through the connection to the landscape and to the mountains behind.


UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Astrid Piber with Sontaya Bluangtook, Marc Salemink and Heeyoun Kim, Hyoseon Park, Alba Pelaez, Andrii Kniaz

Design Partners: UNStudio and DA Group
Digital Content and Exhibition Design: Squint/Opera
Landscape design: Loos van Vliet
Community Content: UNSense

Visualisations: Bloomimages
Animations: Morean

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