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The border between North and South Korea is not just a symbolic line dividing the two countries. It is a high tensioned zone not freely entered or explored. arch out loud is excited to announce their international open-ideas competition, Borders - The Korean Demilitarized Zone Underground Bath House, which will explore the implications of border conditions.
A bathhouse presents an opportunity to bring people into the DMZ through the only public means possible, tourism, while maintaining a linkage with the longstanding typological precedent within Korean culture. An underground bathhouse muddles the understanding of architectural object in relation to context and highlights a shifted relationship between building and landscape.
New questions of border continue to arise in contemporary geopolitics as nations grapple with the security of their borders and current global conflicts. So what can one of the longest-running border conflicts reveal about the nature and potential of borders in general?
arch out loud challenges designers to explore the possibility of creating an underground bath house within the Korean Demilitarized Zone which responds to the surrounding geopolitical conditions. New forms of non-military architecture could occupy this border zone and begin to ease the existing tension. The role tourism can play in opening relations across a border begs the question: How does architecture position itself in the middle of this condition of tension?
The proposed site area for the competition is located just west of the third tunnel which receives a high volume of tourist traffic. In addition, the site is located not too far southeast of the Kaesong industrial park. The park is atypical in that it houses a collaborative economic operation between both North and South Korea. The bath house is intended to be used by workers of the industrial park when it resumes operations and visitors of nearby DMZ tours alike. Designers need not fill the entire outlined site area and should feel free to place their proposals anywhere in the given site.
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