Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul 東大門設計廣場
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a short stroll away from the Cheong Gye Cheon in Seoul, Korea.This area is famous for the fashion and textile wholesale market which unfortunately was closed when I went. Luckily I found the Dongdaemun Design Plaza instead, a nice unexpected find during my trip.
東大門設計廣場 (DDP) 位於首爾東大門區，是近年首爾市內其中一個熱門旅遊景點。 這座三維不規則建築物是世界規模最大， 由已故國際著名建築師扎哈. 哈迪德設計。 它的建築風格像流水一般，跟遊客川流不息的東大門 融為一體。獨特的設計從內內外外，必是攝影發燒友的最愛。
DDP總面積38000平方米，會館長280米，樓高8層， 其中四層是地下館。如果要走遍整個會館，我相信要花上半天時間慢慢欣賞。整座會館內，我最欣賞是設計小徑。這條533米長的通道連接地下2樓到4樓。 我到訪當天這裏竟然沒有其他人。跟著微彎的小徑慢慢走， 感覺整個世界只有我，很寧靜。 可惜當日我沒時間太多時間在這裏逗留，下次有機會一定要再來。
My inintial impression of the DDP is “what an impressive building! It felt like I’ve seen something similar somewhere before. I subsequently found out it was designed by the late Zaha Hadid. That explains why! Her work is remarkable, often incorporating futuristic distinctive curves in her signature amorphous designs. The 38,000 square meter complex is 280 meters long and consists of 8 floors, 4 above ground and 4 below. You can’t tell from the design that it’s so big and I’m pretty sure I only scratched the surface when I was there.
SHADOW OF SHADOW – FLOWER BLOSSOM
Before I entered the DDP, I noticed a massive sculpture by the side of the road. This 8 meter tall bronze sculpture is called Shadow of Shadow – Flower Blossom and was created by the Korean artist Kim Young Won. The sculpture shows the upper body of a person blooming out in six symmetric stages like a flower. A lot of the sightseeing buses stop by this side of the road so you can’t miss it. Even after I entered the site, I could still see it overlooking me.
OUTSIDE THE DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PLAZA
DDP also stands for Dream, Design and Play. The entire complex includes a lot of public areas, art and design hub, and various exhibition areas. Cafe tables were cleverly positioned under the building so visitors weren’t sitting directly under the sunlight, but still in the outdoors. On the other side of the building, there were a line of massive benches, or were they beds? At least that’s what they’ve become now. It always amazes me how people like to sleep in public places, yet if they were so unfortunate to become homeless, would they feel the same?
Or perhaps they were simply laying down to listen to the music. I think public pianos are the most creative concept for the public to get involved in improving harmony in the community. And there’s always bound to be plenty of people who can play the piano beautifully, such as this guy.
Such a remarkably designed building is the prime target for Instagrammers. Curves make the perfect backdrop for photos, and every step you take, you get a different angle. Even the novice in me couldn’t resist snapping away. I think I must have ended up spending more time outside the buildings than inside, till I figured it was time for some air conditioning.
INSIDE THE DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PLAZA
Dongdaemun is well known for being busy all day, there’s a constant flow of activity and people in the area. The DDP design reflects this flow of continuous movement. On the inside, it’s very easy to get lost because you move seamlessly from one area to another. I just drifted from one area to another, going along with the flow. I started at the DDP Design Museum.
Moving on to the Design Exhibition Hall. I love this concourse and the staircase which lead upstairs to the entrance of the exhibition. Part of the exhibition is located in the wide corridor outside the main hall. This is a great way to utilize the open area. What I found very intriguing, was the other end of this corridor. I wandered over.
This is the Design Pathway, a 553m circular pathway that goes around the building taking visitors from the B2 level to the 4th floor. There was no one here, no one ahead of me, and no one followed me over. I felt a bit like as if I was walking into the unknown, not knowing what’s ahead of me. Despite that, it felt very relaxing, almost as if I was the only person in this world. I walked a short distance, saw no one, and no exit. I could have kept on walking and walking if I had enough time.
DREAM, DESIGN AND PLAY
Finally, it was time to leave the DDP. I drifted into another building, but forgot which one it was. And then I found out why the DDP was also called Dream, Design and Play. I couldn’t have come up with a better name for it.