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OMA to expand Hongik University campus as "a natural extension of the Wau mountain" in Seoul

Korea, South Architecture News - Nov 22, 2023 - 11:52   1842 views

OMA to expand Hongik University campus as

Dutch firm OMA has won a competition to design a new extension for the Hongik University's campus in Seoul, South Korea

The design scheme, led by Chris van Duijn, who is OMA Partner and Director of OMA projects in Asia, will be blended into the existing topography by adding a cluster of interwoven buildings and public spaces.

The aim of the scheme is based on the strengthen the connection between the university and the city. The design of the new campus is based on the fact that the university's current educational capacity is no longer sufficient.

Built in 1950s on the slopes of the Wau mountain, the Hongik University is a private institution renowned for its art and design programs. 

However, as the firm explained, "over the years, the university has reached the limits for expansion, isolating the campus from the adjacent neighborhood of Hongdae, an area known for its street art, local shops and nightlife."

OMA stated that "in 2023, thanks to an urban planning ordinance by the Seoul Metropolitan Government that eased restrictions for building on university grounds, an open field at the foot of the mountain was made available for construction and became the site of the project."

OMA to expand Hongik University campus as

"A project that shies away from conventional labels"

OMA envisioned a comprehensive scheme that hides the new functions of the campus below ground level, while adding a plenty of greenery on top of the extension. In this way, the structure would look like "a natural extension of Wau mountain."

"The new Hongik campus adds another chapter to OMA’s involvement in cultural projects in Seoul," said Chris van Duijn, Partner at OMA.

"This is a project that shies away from conventional labels: it is a building, a masterplan and landscape design all at once." 

"It purposely avoids to stand out and invites to be discovered gradually. In doing so, it aims to reestablish the connection the university once had with the neighborhood," Van Duijn added.

The 29,837-square-metre project aims to maximize the campus’ built-up area while inserting a significant amount of greenery. The new addition will be built below ground level. 

The firm strategically distributes the buildings across the site, while their roofs will act as paths sheltered by trees, which connect the university’s main access points with the Hongdae district. 

Between the buildings, there are more stronger elements that activate mobility: sloping outdoor courtyards cascade downwards, aiming to encourage students and staff to gather and interact informally. 

OMA to expand Hongik University campus as

The courtyards are used for dual functions: to bring light deep into the campus and connect the buildings in unexpected ways. In addition, thanks to courtyards, they form a continuous sequence of outdoor spaces.

"We have designed a campus that lets itself be ‘contaminated’ with some of the energy, spontaneity, and creativity of the Hongdae neighborhood," said Ravi Kamisetti, Associate at OMA.

In programmatic distribution, the new buildings are organized through interconnected clusters based on three sectors: High-tech Laboratories, located close to the Engineering Faculty; Amenities, placed at the center; and Maker Spaces, positioned towards Hongdae. 

In addition, a new art center will be placed at the central buildings, while the perimeter will house a multipurpose learning hub. 

"The floor at the level of Hongdae runs through all buildings, allowing one to move up or down no more than three floors. Its public amenities invite visitors in, turning it into the pulse of the campus," as OMA explained.

OMA to expand Hongik University campus as

Model of the campus. Image courtesy of OMA

Seoul-based architecture firm dA Architecture Group will serve as local architect in the project. Structure, MEP and Sustainability will be designed by Arup Hong Kong and landscape project will be designed by Seoul-based landscape firm Office Parkkim

The project will be executed by OMA’s Hong Kong team, led by Chris van Duijn.

OMA's winning scheme was chosen among five entries from established international practices, including SANAA, Herzog & de Meuron, Renzo Piano Building Workshop and David Chipperfield Architects.

OMA completed a new mixed-use tower in Tokyo, which is the firm's first ground-up building in Tokyo and largest built work to date. Moroever, the firm also completed one of its hotly-anticipated buildings, Factory International Aviva Studios, with flexible performance spaces in Manchester, United Kingdom.

The office is currently working on mixed-used buildings including Hangzhou Prism and CMG Times Center in Shenzhen, and retail projects across China and South Korea.

Project facts

Project: Hongik University Seoul Campus 

Status: Ongoing

Client: Hongik University

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Site: 29,837m2 

Partner: Chris van Duijn

Associate: Ravi Kamisetti

Competition team: Ken Fung, Felicia Gambino, Xaveer Roodbeen, Jae Seung David Koo, Hyun Keun Im, Yi Fei Yuan


Local Architects: dA Architecture Group

Façade: VSA

Structure, MEP and Sustainability: Arup Hong Kong 

Landscape: Office Parkkim

Model: OMA and RJ Models

All visualizations © Negativ, courtesy of OMA unless otherwise stated. 

> via OMA 

campus extension OMA Seoul university building