A sole place, a sole space connects time and incident. 40 years has not been a long time. Still, the site tells the story of life and incidents of social upheaval. Explosive economic growth, military confrontation of South and North, drastic change of political landscape, and conflicts and harmony among classes and various groups. Social changes and developments are embedded here.
The 1st Oil Shock that had sprung from Middle East War struck world economy in 1973. Oil prices jumped over to three times just in three months. South Korea reserved 40 million barrels of oil in 1978. That was enough amount for a monthly usage for Seoul back then. Now, it will last only half a day with the same amount.
Korea, the country that used to be one of the poorest among countries aided by UN in 1950, now stands firmly as a country to give help to others. Korea has been exclusive when it comes to maintaining their identity as a homogeneous nation in Far East Asia. In recent days, however, accepting Muslim refugees has been a big social issue in this country. Diverting to a society where various religions and races are respected seems inevitable.
The purpose of building oil depot at southern slope of Mt. Maebong despite the difficulty of excavating rock was to prepare for bombing from North. The Oil Depot had been a grade 1 security facility surrounded by wires and guard posts. Starting from 1950, Korean War – a national tragedy to split South(supported by United States, UK, and UN) and North(supported by China and Soviet Union) - still has not come to the end. Discussion over North Korea’s denuclearization and a peace treaty is now ongoing.
The main stadium of 2002 World Cup was built right in front of the site. The site had been positioned as a storage for dangerous goods and neglected until 2014 for safety. With the power of collective intelligence, ideas and discussions shed light to a brighter future of rehabilitating the site and facilities. An international competition for rehabilitating Mapo Oil Depot was held in 2014. The new plan, among 95 suggested plans, was picked through an unanimous decision of judges.
A concrete structure that lives together with growing moss and large trees penetrating its body. A rust tank and facilities. Heaviness coming from a structure and its rough textures. Time makes all those man-made artifacts to blend in with nature. The process of transformation; from neglected and oxidized waste in a hole to a cultural facility, from a depot of oil to a depot of culture, and from a single-purposed structure to a multiple cultural engine. Only when unexpected twist and strong sympathy comes together can one be touched.
Design of Mapo Oil Tank Culture Park can’t be explained without telling excavating process. Discovery of the constructing process indicates(brought us) to a new level of architectural planning. Finding traces is a start, and revealing is the end. Mapo Oil Tank Culture Park went through construction in a reverse order of Oil depot construction progress in the past.



- Location : Seoul, Korea
- Client : Seoul Metropolitan Government
- Site Area : 101,510m2
- Bldg. Area : 5,502.96m2
- Gross Floor Area : 6,486.91m2
- Bldg. Scale : 2 stories above ground
- Structure : Reinforced Concrete

Heo Seogoo
RoA architects