25 Rooms, Seoul, South Korea

Moran Museum of Art is seeking a folly within its outdoor garden that celebrates the idea of “peaceful dynamics”. Currently, Moran Museum’s outdoor garden provides an extroverted experience - visitors are free to meander and explore the various unique sculptural pieces distributed across the landscape. In contrast, 25 Rooms provides an introverted experience through a labyrinth of human scaled rooms. The field of rooms unfold relationships between interior and exterior, solid and void, natural and artificial, isolation and integration. The aggregation of volumes creates an inner world of reflection and contemplation within the serene setting of the Moran Museum.

From a distance, the folly appears like a sculptural object within the garden. The white walls form an object that has a twofold relationship with the natural context - its whiteness visually contrasts the surrounding greenery, yet at the same time subtly acts as a canvas for the trees to cast shadows on. Furthermore, the pristine whiteness of the walls are intended to naturally weather over time, allowing the folly to age and become a testimony of time.

As one approaches the folly, he/she enters a labyrinth built up of 13 square volumes. The volumes are aggregated in a checkered pattern, forming a repetitive sequence of 25 indoor and outdoor enclosed spaces. Designed like a labyrinth, there are multiple ways out, but there are also dead ends - forcing the visitors to be lost within the volumes. Each volume almost touches each other, allowing for small gaps where visitors have small glimpses of each other - creating a sense of human presence while being in isolation. The tapered volumes increase and decrease in height, creating a game of shadows and view framing of the sky and surrounding landscape. The undulating roofscape also intentionally disorients the visitors. As visitors navigate through the different rooms, they are invited to pause and lounge on the chairs within the outdoor spaces to enjoy the silence, take a nap or contemplate.

The total dimensions of the folly is 8 meters by 8 meters, built up of thirteen 2 meter by 2 meter volumes. The volumes and enclosing walls are constructed as a simple steel-framed structure and cement walls painted with white stucco.

25 Rooms is a hybrid between art and architecture - an object that celebrates the natural quality of the site but is also a series of enclosed spaces where visitors are captivated to enjoy a moment of silence.


Location: Seoul, South Korea
Client: Moran Museum of Art
Year: 2016
Scope: Competition
Status: 1st Prize  
Program: Pavilion
Team: Nicolas Lee