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About Leeum

About Leeum


Honorable geometry which symbolizes the power and roots of tradition

Mario Botta, who emphasized that museum architecture should stimulate sanctity and consecration in the way that church architecture used to do, employed this philosophy in designing Museum 1.

Museum 1 is a massive yet minimal hexahedral shape and is located on the slope of the Namsan with a view of the Hangang. An extremely simple hexahedral shape and reverse cone is a symbol of Mario Botta’s architecture. The large hexahedral shape that guards the Namsan, and a reversed-corn shape that is planted on the ground that crosses the southern path, together form a simple combination of volumes. The building’s skyline resembles the battlements of medieval castles. The trees on the rooftop of the building are a dynamic nuance suggesting war flags, such as on a citadel. Such elements of the building, which indicate Seoul’s legacy as a castled town, place the overall image of the complex somewhere between Rem Koolhaas’s horizontal platform (Samsung Child Education & Culture Center) and Jean Nouvel’s bulky mass, which begets the image of a hermit.

Museum 1’s solid shape invokes a citadel or castle that protects the unchanging value of traditional and contemporary art. In particular, terra cotta bricks on the exterior wall, made of fired clay, symbolize Korean porcelain, which has been internationally acclaimed. These bald, geometric shapes and invincible exterior walls contribute to The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art’s overall powerful image, displaying the power of tradition.

Architects Mario Botta, Ground area 2,314㎡, Floor area 9,917㎡, Scale F4, B3”

Architect Tour

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Materials of architectures

Terra cotta wall, with a subtle lighting contrast and a soft texture.

Museum 1’s two masses of a reverse cone and a hexahedron are connected by a horizontal terra cotta belt.
Terra cotta bricks, made from clay, create a mysterious and delicate nuance in the natural light.
Smooth changes of colors, by tiles and light, soften the heaviness of the two bulky masses.
Furthermore, terra cotta bricks indicate that Korean porcelain, which is the subject of a major collection in Museum 1, is made of the earth’s clay.

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The heart of The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, The Lobby of Museum 1.

Museum 1’s lobby, which is located in the basement of a mass of the reverse cone, is the heart of The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.
Museum 1 and 2, and Samsung Child Education & Culture Center, are connected from the lobby; every activity starts and ends here.
The lobby leads audiences to the ramp at the center of Rem Koolhaas’s Samsung Child Education & Culture Center. The aisle of this ramp is Leeum’s first public gateway.

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A comfortable and mysterious space in the lay of light from the ceiling.

Museum 1’s reverse cone mass is “a circular hall with a round ceiling (Rotunda)” and is connected from the lobby in the basement to the ceiling.
The circular void space allows audiences to enjoy the full view—from the lobby to the upper floors—at one glance.
Moreover, the circular staircase, which winds above a circular void space, connects exhibition rooms in four floors.
The ceiling of the rotunda naturally connects inner spaces by delivering soft light to the basement lobby, where audiences are, and also provides an open space between exhibition rooms.
The rotunda, which absorbs soft natural light, allows audiences a unique experience that cannot be enjoyed under artificial lighting.

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Exhibition Space

Exhibition spaces and cases, which reflect two individually characteristic shapes

Museum 1’s exhibition spaces largely consist of hexahedral exhibition rooms, while the reverse cone exhibition rooms around the rotunda have no pillar inside.
Exhibition cases were manufactured by the collaboration with an internationally renowned German exhibition case maker company Glasbau Hahn, and were produced in two separate designs: full-height fixed cases which were installed on the walls of the hexahedral exhibition rooms; and square-shaped independent cases which were placed in circular exhibition rooms.
Above everything, individual cases in circular exhibition rooms were anchored on the ceiling to give the illusion of drifting in space.