Column of Light, Busan Mulmangol Bunker Regeneration © 2016
Client: Busan International Architectural Culture Festival Organizing Committee, Kyungdong Construction Co., Ltd.
Status: Competition Design
Design: Monolab
Team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Vania Citraro, Francesca Colavin, Ignacio Rodriguez, Vergara Dominguez, Flavia Oddi, Dalila Pace, Maura Rotelli, Angela Verrengia, Najara Ruiz Zuriarrain


…six ways to deal with a hillside


In Mulmangol village, a small town sitting on the foothills of Hwangnyoengsan Mountain in Busan, an underground bunker facility has been left unattended for the past decades. As part of its urban renewal project, Busan Metropolitan City decided to provide administrative support for a speedy regeneration project of the underground bunker. The development of the whole area and the renewal of the bunker should naturally contribute to the improvement of surrounding residential area and also provide the appeal of a downtown tourist destination.

BUSAN TELLS US…that a varied mix of programs at macro and micro levels can make an expanding creative industry. That a mix of cultural, short stay and business programs is attractive for stakeholders, citizens and tourists. That art related programs will be able to develop.
THE HILL SITE TELLS US…that the hill sides are too steep to program and to walk. To avoid steep climbs and descends and for the easiest ways of place making we apply three techniques: 1. perforations in and through the hill, 2. embedded lateral building volumes in the sides of the hill, 3. suspended paths and plateaus on contour lines above the surface of the hill.
THE BUNKER COMPLEX TELLS US…that its layout is ready for making further excavations. … that we can use the same structural approach of vaults to generate high quality architecture.… that we can transform the cross corridor into a pedestrian street crossing the hill.… that it is so deep down that we should make an atrium to the sky and also interventions sideways.
THE ATRIUM TELLS US…that it should be programmed all the way up.… that it requires special ways to move and walk up and down.… that it needs programmed ends: the bunker complex at its foot and a dramatic building at its top.
WE PROPOSE…an assemblage of components tuned to the local conditions of the hill. Components that function closely together as a network and also work apart if needed. We propose a project with significant cultural weight that cannot be ignored and that has a major attraction for citizens and tourists.

The spine of the project is the atrium with two poles: at its foot it has the bunker complex and at its top a panoramic building. The bunker complex is partly excavated and acquires several typologies of exhibition spaces. Two pedestrian passages cross through the hill: one is the existing bunker corridor and a new one is made halfway up the atrium as a ‘media and digital painting tube’. All parts together make a zone over the hill which is ready to become a relaxing flower and butterfly garden. The lower sides of this garden start at the existing bunker corridor with glazed lateral buildings with a hotel and short stay programs on one side and office spaces on the other side. From the garden two horizontal elevated paths, tracing the contour lines through the forest, bring visitors towards arts & crafts pavilions, to a parking, to a campsite and up to the panoramic building.


The vertical atrium is the major vertical connector between the two main poles (bunker complex below and panoramic building on top). It has internal ‘spiders’: structural supports to withstand the lateral pressure of the hill. The spiders carry floor fields for art galleries that make a marketplace, a trade center for art. In the center of the atrium a glass lift plateau moves large groups of people up and down like a dramatic event. Between this plateau and the galleries is a large circular stairs of monumental proportions.

The bunker complex currently consists of tunnels and some spaces. We propose to excavate the spaces in-between the corridors and around the spaces. It will become a complex that can feature thematic technological art exhibitions, experiments and personalized artist’s exhibitions. The bunker complex has an atrium (see 3) in its center. The daylight through the atrium is not the main issue; its purpose is to link all components of the project and bring all people together in a maelstrom to celebrate the production, presentation and marketing of the creative art industry.

The panoramic ring shaped building is the climax, located above the vertical atrium. It is dramatic; partly embedded inside and partly suspended over the hill top and has a tourist office, a restaurant and several shops. On top is a sky deck with an exciting observation tower and a cable car system to the City Hall.

The two embedded lateral buildings contain a hotel with youth hostel and suites on the east side and office spaces on the west side. These buildings are positioned at the openings of both passages running through the hill. The buildings fit seamlessly in the hill sides. Two narrow zigzag mountain paths along their sloping facades connect the two contour paths with the two passages through the hill.

Two elevated contour paths above the forest floor are completely horizontal, so people need no effort to walk through the quiet natural forest. The zone in-between the two paths is animated by little wooden pavilions in which traditional arts & crafts are demonstrated and where visitors can participate in workshops. The pavilions can be realized by an architectural design competition and will already be an attraction by itself because of its contemporary state-of-the-art qualities. The zigzag paths pass over the hill through an Arcadian flower garden that makes a relaxing area where visitors can pick flowers and have a break. More towards the South the paths connect to a campsite for backpackers.

The current access road can have two parking decks, organically tracing the hill’s contour lines, for vehicles and double decker busses.