In one of their latest competitions, arch out loud challenged designers to explore the idea of building a public underground bath house that responds to the geopolitical conditions of the highly tensioned 38th Parallel, a.k.a. the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea. While maintaining its roots in Korean culture, “an underground bathhouse muddles the understanding of architectural object in relation to context and highlights a shifted relationship between building and landscape,” arch out loud says. “How does architecture position itself in the middle of this condition of tension?”
The open competition brought in over 300 creative ideas, with many depicted as stunning renderings. The jury — which included Stan Allen, Moon Hoon, Jing Liu, Lola Sheppard, Minsuk Cho, Kristy Balliet, Anna Neimark, Seunghyun Kang, Nicholas Bonner, Yehre Suh, and Matias Del Campo — picked one prize winner, five runners-up, 10 honorable mentions, and 10 Director's' Choices.
“With such a charged setup, the competition poses difficult questions and issues for architecture. The more successful submissions were ones that tried to address the conflict through spatial programs, scenarios, and narratives,” one juror commented.
Check out the winning and runner-up entries below.
WINNER: Crossing Parallel(s) : Bathhouse as a Metaphorical Theater by STUDIO M.R.D.O. & Studio LaM - Jinhyun Jun, Minkyung Song, Kangil Ji | New York, United States
Project summary: “38th parallel is not a thin superficial line, rather a thickened situation: it has been solidified by accumulation of ambivalent emotions - tensions and relaxations - between North and South. In the proposed bathhouse, represented as a ‘metaphorical theater’, visitors (actors/audiences) coming from each side reproduce the process of such solidification while walking down the double helix ramp; experience of merging and diverging, moments of crossing uncrossable lines, while being more away from each other. Upon reaching the communal pool, all such experience is liquefied into water, and debris of emotions brought by visitors soaks into each other’s skin.
RUNNER UP: Cross by Xiaoyu Wang, Yutian Wang | Brooklyn, NY, U.S.
Project summary: “Our project aims to explore how border functions as key element that embraces two contradicted territories into one united entity rather than separates them. By introducing an undulated line that dramatically dances in-between the two countries, a continuously weaving underground wall ties a series of collectively shared open pools and solid individual rooms with round shape geometry which is inherited from the mechanism of traditional Korean bathhouse typology Jimjilbang. By inviting natural sunlight and topographical landscape from above-ground to underground, this form creates multiple crossing-border interstitial conditions that mutually encourages people from both North and South Korea to interact physically.”
RUNNER UP: Primitive Field by Yeonmoon Kim, Choonghyo Lee | Cambridge, MA, U.S.
Project summary: “North and South. Communism and Democracy. Socialism and Capitalism. Korea has been existing within pairs of opposite features since the devision. The "Primitive Field" is about this existing condition of Korea itself. On the ground, physical materialization of the "demarcation line" will symbolize the reality of the Korean division. As approaching underground by entering into the border itself, the architecture rather dematerialize its physical presence in order to reinforce the bathhouse's social activity within the primitive field condition. The "Primitive Field" is the coexistence of over and underground and materialized and dematerialized.”
RUNNER-UP: This Lofty Sky by Vuk Filipic, Anna Murynka | Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Project summary: “The extreme tension of the DMZ paradoxically reinforces an intense peace. With a similar intention, this project proposes to erase interpersonal conflict through a process of introspection. Guests of the bathhouse share in the equality of solitude and inner reflection, regardless of their origin or state of existence in the external world. Suspended glass vessels lower individual bathers into a vast subterranean dome, treating them to a steam, hot soak, and paralyzing ice dip in the process. A mass spectacle of simultaneous personal isolation unfolds, mirroring the human condition beyond the bathhouse.”
RUNNER-UP: Hypotenuse Thermae by Zhe Peng | Beijing, China
Project summary: “Hypotenuse thermae proposes a radical responds to the paradoxical DMZ. It creates a world of autonomy, in order to ease and accelerate the confrontation at the same time, to show a true reflection of the local context. The thermae is an exotic, consisted of traditional functions of a Roman baths and other modern social activities. All elements blended together in a complete artificial underground cave, just like the mystery vault of ancient ruins depicted by Piranesi. It is an enclave of silence, a heterotopia full of roars, an enormous mat for prayers, a palace of policed orgy.”
RUNNER-UP: Water Whirl by SPECTACLE: Bureau for Architecture and Urbanism - Philip Vandermey, Jessie Andjelic, David Vera | Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Project summary: “The addition of a bathhouse introduces leisure activities within the militarized buffer zone and ecological sanctuary of the DMZ. Water Whirl takes two existing spatial conditions - firstly the void of the DMZ, a space across which transgressions, propaganda, posturing and political relations are constantly played out, and, secondly, the highly charged negotiation spaces within the blue meeting houses in the JSA / Panmunjom - and reinterprets them into an architectural machine that uses playful spatial devices towards productive interaction and reconciliation. Using the expanded functions of a large Jimjilbang enables the programmatic exuberance to provide variety and critical mass.”
Check out the honorable mentions on arch out loud's website.
All images courtesy of arch out loud.
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