A Passage of Time

Ulf Meyer
16. March 2022
Visualization © JOHO Architecture

With venues in four locations, the MMCA is a giant. In recent years the large headquarters in Gwacheon has been complemented by branches in the capital (near the Gyeongbokgung palace), Deoksugung, and Cheongju. In a way, this multiplication of facilities proves that the main building south of Seoul is a little off the beaten tracks for connoisseurs of modern art in South Korea. This is one reason that MMCA Gwacheon, with over 73,000 square meters of galleries spread across three floors, was looking for a new attraction. 

Visualization © JOHO Architecture

The fortress-like existing building, the work of Kim Tai-soo in 1986, has a heavy, postmodern appearance that takes after traditional Korean castles. It has a unique central interior space where the video The More the Better by famous Korean artist Nam June Paik is displayed. The media installation that consists of 1,003 television monitors and serves as a symbol for the institution (it's currently in testing following a major restoration). A spiral ramp at the core serves as a locus and has a shape that echoes a beacon mound.

Visualization © JOHO Architecture

To make the museum more attractive, a competition for “Project 2022: Rooftop Garden” was organized in 2021. Lee Jeong-hoon won the competition, beating seventeen other teams, with his proposal for a large installation on the rooftop of the museum. Lee’s open-air canopy of pipes, which aims to embody the “passage of time,” will be in display starting in May.

Visualization © JOHO Architecture


The installation on the roof of the cylindrical museum will overlook a garden designed by landscape architect Hwang Ji-hae. The garden was created with local plants from the mountains surrounding the museum.

Lee founded JOHO Architecture in Seoul in 2009. His architecture aims to create a “new identity and discourse in contemporary cities.” The project for the MMCA offers a resting place outdoors for museum-goers — in a spot they would not have experienced otherwise.

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