Big Tree Competition Design
Client: City of Suncheon
Design: Monolab
Team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Francesca Colavin, Dalila Pace, Francesca Testi, Flavia Oddi, Ignacio Rodriguez Vergara Dominguez, Angela Verrengia, Naiara Ruiz Zuriarrain
Year: 2016


…test bed…


International Competition for Architectural Ideas.

The goal of this competition is to make an art center that acts as a generator for the revival of the Old City of Suncheon; more than a showcase of art works it generates cultural and community activities.

Our proposal for Big Tree is a composition of three domains: past, presence and future are vertically organized around a central atrium.

two sheets
The project consists of two individually warped, white concrete sheets that together can make connections and spaces where programs can nestle comfortably. The sheet morphology is designed in two steps: 1. the top sheet delivers panoramic views onto Suncheon and 2. the lower sheet allows programmatic nesting.
The two sheets are suspended above the city floor. The top sheet is landscape triggered and the bottom sheet makes the arts center. Seen from around, the project has a shape like a tree and the center comes down to the new public plaza via the trunk, an atrium that holds the visitor center as heart of the project with main entry and exit.

new typology
The project brings a new exciting typology to the City and Metropolitan Region of Suncheon. It is a stack of three domains (historic domain, contemporary domain and future urban domain) that work together.
The height of the project is limited to twelve meters: the scale is human and embedded in the urban tissue of the city.

1. historic domain (plaza at the city floor)
The new public plaza on the activated open city floor is well connected to successful programs like Fashion Street, Culture Street and Central Market. It is further propelled by the new visitor center and Yeonja-Ru to create a truly human city environment. The central point of the plaza is made by the hollow trunk with the visitors center showing a huge interactive model of the city of Suncheon. The Yeonja-Ru has a busy cafeteria at the plaza and its own terrace embedded in the relaxed garden on top.
Below the plaza are the shopping mall and the underground parking that have a new central connection in the plaza. Various public events can take place on the plaza and sport facilities on the West side complete this attractive and dynamic environment.

2. contemporary domain (art center at +1)
The art center has a naturally shaped loop around the atrium that gives access to four exciting spaces in-between the concrete sheets. The spaces offer views in all directions onto Suncheon.
The morphology of the two concrete sheets allow the art center spaces to be among valleys of the garden. Two different worlds are together and make an opportunity for an art garden that has wide panoramic views onto Suncheon.

3. future urban domain (garden at +2)
Urban Future is the third domain, made of vegetation and art garden, overlooking Suncheon and the Bay Garden area. It is a botanical, green, relaxed public space, made of various plant species that filter the local air and create a perfect local urban micro climate. After some years of growth it will become a live lab, a test bed for new eco city environments. Specific plant species will be tested and monitored by Phd students and experts together with local volunteers. The outcomes will define and perpetuate Suncheons future as an eco-city.

The two sheets are made of concrete poured on site and finished in white epoxy. The upper sheet that holds the garden has insulation, roofing membrane and an integrated water & nutrients system on top. Columns that coincide with the parking and bracings in the corners keep the project suspended over the city floor.

The project has elevators at the Yeonja-Ru and at the visitor center. Three emergency stairs are in the corners of the project along the bracings. Two freight elevators are located at the exhibition center. The atrium has a spiral ramp to access the arts center and garden. The parking has an access vehicle ramp. The shopping mall and the parking have two elevators, two sets of escalators and two extra emergency stairs to access the plaza.