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Jeongok Prehistory Museum
Gyeongi-do, South Korea

The competition brief for a museum in Gyeonggi-do, Korea, called for program of a gross area of 5,000 m2 (53,820 sf) to be constructed close to a very significant archaeological site. It was at this site where the first Acheulian-like handaxes in East Asia were discovered, proving that Asian culture developed contemporaneously with European culture. Adjacent to a working archeological dig, excavated artifacts will be exhibited in the museum. The museum site is located on an almost vertical basalt cliff. The competition’s organizing committee was interested in exposing the underground core of the basalt cliff because of its geological importance. The brief asked that the natural topography of the site as well as its proximity to the Hantan river be integrated in the proposal.

UrbanLab collaborated with Ove Arup’s Chicago office to explore ways to use the underground basalt deposit as the structural basis of the cantilevered building. The basalt functions as a counterweight and a fulcrum for the extended long-span structure. The cantilever is made possible by the use of two stress-skin concrete “waffle-type” slabs braced by integral concrete walls/columns. The integral walls/columns provide mutual lateral support, enabling a cantilever without external bracing. The loads applied to the multi-layered sandwiched system are transferred ultimately to the underground basalt deposit. The system is a cellular network structure that maintains equilibrium in the whole via a complex interdependence of the parts. The technique fuses structure, surface, pattern, and ornamentation.