The Japanese Forced Occupation Period (Korea under Japanese Rule) is a very important history in Korea. 35 years of being a colony of Japan carved a trail throughout the Republic of Korea’s history till now. Various independence activists throughout the world was fully committed and made major movements for Korea’s independence. Amongst them, especially the Korean independence activist, Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun is never forgotten by assassinating the main leader of the imperialist invasion and colonization; Ito Hirobumi.
“Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun is a national hero who brought hope and provided a source of light to the country’s next milestone during the tragic declination period of the late Chosun era, who had a passionate patriotism to bravely assassin the invader Ito Hirobumi.”
Ahn Jung-Geun’s achievements are well known to the Citizens in the Republic of Korea but due to this major achievement by Ahn, other 12 Independence Activist Allied Members who joined him for other achievements had been buried.
At first sight the overall design of Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun Memorial Hall is simply consisted with 12 boxes which are apart than being a typical/ordinary Memorial Hall design. Also, it is easily recognized that the 12 boxes actually represents the 12 Independence Activist Allied Members as mentioned above. The Architect wanted to emphasize all of them along with Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun by the 12 massive forms gushing out from the ground supporting the phrase of “Memories that shall not be forgotten should be carved in another representable form to seal the memories”. These 12 massive forms stands proudly at an old Japanese Shrine Worshiping location while metaphorically representing the glorious shine with architectural lighting to the people who visit Namsan Mountain at night.
Each space is characterized by the twelve massive forms together with the Site’s sloped surface and water surfaces. The architect designed the space with a natural flow so the visitors or tourists can find the target to commemorate while simultaneously enjoy the nature. The architect located the main pedestrian circulation at a gradual slope one level below so the visitor could interact with nature. The path leads to the space named “Borderline” where the water flows down a feature wall which has Patriot Ahn’s quotations and autographs. While viewing Patriot Ahn’s theories the path terminates at the main entry located at the rear side of the building. Through this space, even the non-visitors who had other reasons to visit the mountain eventually realizes that this building is a memorial hall while the space itself acts as a natural transition between the Namsan mountain’s nature and the memorial hall. The Architect’s main emphasis was originated from his theory of how to overlook a Memorial Hall.
“The main objective of designing a true Memorial Hall is to make the visitors experience the mood, remind them to change its attitude towards the object through the architectural elements and parameters.”
By these transitions of space, it truly reminds the visitors to commemorate the target prior to entering the building.
This mood continues and emerges into the interior space. As you enter the interior by following the ramp, which spans almost halfway around the building perimeter, a bright shining ray of light falls down from the sky at the center of the enclosed place lighting up the Sculpture of Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun. This mood reflects Patriot Ahn Jung-Geun’s achievement of providing a source of light and hope during the Japanese Forced Occupation Period. However, this solemn mood actually distracts visitor’s attention due to its heavy atmosphere. As a solution, the architect reversed this experience by creating bright 12 different functional spaces with semi-transparent materials at the exterior compared to creating a heavy, dramatic effect in the space. The main circulation is in one direction, using escalators to view the interior exhibits while variety of exhibits are also provided between each exhibition space for the visitor’s convenience. After the last exhibition place, the path leads to the South staircase where the City view of Han River can be viewed. The space was majorly designed to be functioned with various programs rather than being simply used as a memorial hall/exhibit. In Particular, the auditorium which accommodates more than 300 people can be used as a cultural, educational space as well and it is conveniently used by separating the exhibit area with the main circulation path.
Written by MK Kim
Architects: Yeonghwan Lim + Sunhyun Kim
Location: Namsan Park, Seoul, Korea
Architect In Charge: Young Lim, Sun Kim
Project Team: Sunyoung Hwang, Jihwan Kim, Seokwon Lee, Kyungtae Park, Hojun Song
Client: The Building Council of Ahn Jung-Geun Memorial
Area: 1185.02 sqm