Kukje gallery co-creation

The architects of a small gallery building in South Korea dressed its rectangular shape in a steel mesh made of tiny rings, specially engineered for this project. The idea is similar to a knight’s chain mail. Of note is that the designers, SO-IL, worked very closely with Front Inc, an office specializing in engineering and production. This co-creation made the project possible as well as unique.

The relationship between material and environment drives the design work of SO-IL. The Kukje Gallery in Seoul is intended to stand out from its historic surroundings while avoiding the rigid geometries associated with modern, ‘white cube’ gallery designs. SO-IL envisioned the mass of the building wrapped in a stocking-like material that could be weatherproof and achieve complex curvatures. Initially, they explored the use of chainmail mesh.

While the architects found this material worked on the human body, it did not work at the scale of a building. After studying the material and its geometry closely through computer models and physical tests, they developed a method to re-scale the material for use on a building. Together with Front, they developed, engineered and fabricated a one-off, stainless-steel flexible mesh façade, consisting of over half a million rings. This envelops the gallery’s exterior and allows for a diffuse light to permeate the interior gallery space.

Quality of daylight is a particularly important aspect of art spaces. The perimeter of the Kukje Gallery’s exhibition space is sky-lit while the sheen through its mesh façade changes subtly over time depending on the quality of light. SO-IL´s mesh-like cladding allows light to be controlled but still allows for an awareness of the surrounding environment.

Last week, we wrote about the Materia Co-creation Award which was awarded to the extension to Holland Composites and Benthem Crouwel Architects for their Stedelijk museum project in Amsterdam.

The Kukje Gallery is another really fantastic, inspirational project, which shows the huge benefit of co-creation.

Do you have a great suggestion for the award, or are you working on a project that has been made significantly better through co-creation? We’d love to hear about it! Next year’s award will be presented during Material Xperience 2014, which will be 22nd – 24th January.