Seoul Urban Womb

Women and Family Complex Facility

Team: Irgen Salianji, Marina Kounavi, Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Antony Laurijsen, Stavria Psomiadi


The site is located at Daebang-dong, where U.S. army base ‘Camp Grey’ had been located for 55 years until the retrocession in 2007. Located adjacent to this site was Seoul Women Shelter which accommodated prostitutes, runaway dementia elders, and vagrants from 1962 to 1998. The shelter was converted to Seoul Women Plaza. This is a symbolic place where tragic division of the Korean peninsula, poverty and hardships of woman in the era is accumulated and conveys the agony of Korean modern history. The purpose of this project to turn this gloomy and ‘deathlike’ space into a place of resurrection, a site of nurturing space that will foster welfare of women and families.

Therefore, the project develops a strong direct urban intervention by connecting the train station of the area with the Women Plaza through the new building of the facility. This programmatic carpet of connection breaks the rectangular volume of the project and creates a large urban void that can host events and activities. A large 5-floors-high urban door opens to enhance the continuity and welcome the fusion between public and private, inside and outside, as well as transition from the urban to the domestic. As a result, rather that breaking the program into several smaller volumes, the proposal condenses all of it into a single orthogonal envelope, suggesting efficiency and unity as the future of sustainability both in environmental and social terms. 


As proclaimed from the title of the project, the building is designed as an organic urban womb that intensifies spatially and programmatically the urbanity of the site and the wider area. The building consists of a compact rectangular volume that is interrupted by a sequence of voids to create a dynamic network of activities inside the building. The main void of the project is defined by the big pixelated plinth and resembles an over-scaled urban living room or lecture theatre for the community of Women and Families of Seoul to exist together in a common three-dimensional network and perform their daily activities within an open platform.

The new Women and Family Complex Facility will be a space where relationship among family and households of women will be enhanced. The organization will face age-old unresolved issues with new experimental thinking and interesting methods. The issues tackled will include collapse of social relation network, lack of communication among family members, 1 person household, women’s low participation on economic activities which stagnated for 20 years and stagnant of gender inference.

“We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us,” as the statement indicates, it is very crucial that the new spatial composition of Seoul Urban Womb inspires citizen’s participation and enforces accumulation of relational network, added to programs and operation system. Imagine a space where you are encouraged to meet each other, helps to form creative culture and learn customs of community, and expands value of gender equality in family and community.

The building is composed of a hybrid mix-use program that contains Family space, Handwork activities, Growing space, Conference spaces, a Learning center and Communal Spaces.  In order to create clarity and efficiency, the building distributes the different programmatic entities into three basic volumes: the pixelated plinth, the vertical tower and the horizontal slab of the roof. 

The pixelated plinth contains the main functions of the building, such as an auditorium, the Family space, the Youth Center, the Food courts, the Production labs and the Shops. The organizational structure of the plinth is one of five stripes of increasing size positioned one next to another. Each stripe contains a distinct program and is positioned between related activities in order to maximize the efficiency of the building and moreover to extrapolate the interaction and the spatial experience of the users. While walking on the direction of a stripe the user faces the same activities, but once the user walks perpendicularly he or she receives a rich cross-programmatic experience by facing a series of changing and dramatically different activities.

The tower of the building houses the boarding facilities defines the western edge of the envelope and frames the events space of the Facility. Organized as a simple and compact machine for living, the tower contains twelve rooms and two meeting rooms on each of its five floors above ground, whereas it houses a lobby and the Museum of Motherhood on the ground floor, therefore animating the level of the street. The circulation of the space is facilitated by two vertical cores of staircases and elevators. The glass and aluminum façade of the tower is dressed with a generic steel mesh to control sunlight and create interesting qualities of transparency.

The rooftop slab of the building is an inhabited truss structure that houses the conference facilities and administration. The whole floor is designed as a clear array of programmatic zones tied together by a perimetric circulation zone. Along the façade the floor is programmed with informal and open-plan office areas. In the center of the floor and illuminated by two large courtyards there are the conference rooms of various sizes, as well as meeting rooms and the vertical circulation cores.

New Town Hall Prague 7

Team: Irgen Salianji, Karolina Szóstkiewicz, Marina Kounavi, Antony Laurijsen

The project for a new Town Hall in Prague 7 is proposing a long term vision to reinvent the administration and bureaucratic process. The building is designed as a flexible spatial system to facilitate open plan office layouts that introduce the notions of informality and creativity in the interaction between public servants and citizens. Town Halls have been spaces of governmental formality and lengthy bureaucratic procedures for decades, however they will obtain a more public and informal character as the advancements in technology and the rise of social media will transform not only the legislative process and governmentality, but physical space itself. In such a context of future projections, we propose a clean and flexible  building that organizes the generic administration work-spaces in the centre of its floor plan, and instead the workstations that involve interaction with the citizens are positioned on the perimeter and the facade. Both symbolically and functionally, the perimeter of the floor plans becomes a social condenser, a zone of public life and encounters - an architectural space and a facade animated by the activities of daily life in a public institution that is transforming and is being transformed by the citizens of Prague District 7.

The new facilities of the Town Hall will bring density and activity into the whole neighbourhood. In terms of aesthetics, the building is making a contrast to the surroundings with its clean form and abstract appearance. In terms of function and activities, however, the new Town Hall building introduces a new level of transparency and inclusiveness for the local community and the whole district to participate and affect the democratic process. 

The new Town Hall building is organized vertically as a gradient of public openness and accessibility on the lower levels and segregation of more administrative functions on the upper ones. Equally on the floor plan of each level, the inner spaces of the building are housing office spaces for administration employees and the outer ones open plan desks for employees and departments that deal with clients and citizens. 

The terraces of the building are a strong part of the urban alignment and the identity of the building, therefore they are further highlighted in the new scheme. Some of the lower terraces become continuation of the public route of the building and are open to citizens, and other have a limited accessibility only to the employees of the building. All off them are resurfaced and landscaped, so that they become welcoming and attractive to visitors. 

The ground floor plan of the Town Hall includes a wide entrance in the north facade of the building and houses key spaces of the program such as the information desk, cash office and register office. Being easily accessible and welcoming, the entrance of the building is adjacent to the public stairs of the building and the exhibition gallery which is spread along the perimeter of the floor plan. In contrast to the feasibility study, we propose that the cafe is placed on the southern western corner of the ground floor, so that is becomes a pleasant space for brakes and encounters for both employees and clients.

The public perimetric areas of the building contain a multitude of open pan offices  and informal meeting spaces. The acoustic treatment of the inner walls is here an important element to be considered, however the quality of the space and the public feeling it provides, compensate the effort.

All technical and utility spaces - such as kitchenettes, clock rooms and archive - are in the central core of the building. The central core also compresses the elevators, fire escape staircase and toilets, as well as archive spaces.

The ground floor plan of the Town Hall includes a wide entrance in the north facade of the building and houses key spaces of the program such as the information desk, cash office and register office. Being easily accessible and welcoming, the entrance of the building is adjacent to the public stairs of the building and the exhibition gallery which is spread along the perimeter of the floor plan. In contrast to the feasibility study, we propose that the cafe is placed on the southern western corner of the ground floor, so that is becomes a pleasant space for brakes and encounters for both employees and clients.

In the first floor of the building the clients can find the Departments of Social and Legal Protection, and the Children Protection Department. Also in the floor it is located the Foreigners and Minorities Department, as well as meeting rooms and kids corner. 
The second floor of the proposed scheme houses the Operation and Control Departments of the Town Hall. The IT Department is also located in the same level, as well as the Culture and Sports Department. 
The third floor contains also departments that are directly serving clients, such as  Municipality Properties Department, the Housing and Retail Department, and the Investment Department. The Legal and Education Departments complete the lout of the floor. 
The forth floor of the building introduces more administrative departments such as the Legal and Administrative Department, the Development  Department, the Living Development Department, as well as more the Department of Masterplanning.  In this floor the informal perimetric desks are being reduced since less clients need to visit the floor. 
The rest of the floors contain the rest of the Departments of the Town Hall, including the Finance and Accounting Departments on the fifth floor, and the Organisation  Department on the seventh floor. 
The mayor’s office, as well as the ones of his assistants and secretaries are located on the sixth floor. The Crisis Management facility is located in close proximity from the mayor’s office, on the seventh floor, together with Chairmans of Departments. 
The eighth floor of the building has been redesigned to function as a Ceremonial Halls, as the technical spaces that were located there were moved in the basement. 
The sustainability profile remains a critical integrated element of the scheme designed to meet the ethos and ambition of the City hall’s Sustainability Vision for the development. The scheme is designed to meet high energy efficiency targets which are an essential, core requirement: optimising natural and mixed-mode ventilation systems, exploiting the use of thermal mass in the building, using efficient and effective plant.

The massing of the building provides shading during the summer to the main windows. This reduces solar gain and means that natural ventilation will work better for more of the year; A double skin façade (DSF) is being used as part of the inlet air system: it serves as an enhancement to improve control of solar gains in the summer and preheats air in the winter – this is on the S facade; Daylighting is being enhanced through the use of a glass façade on North and South area of the building and the terraces; The building responds to different wind conditions to enhance natural ventilation; The stairs along the façade work as “lungs” of the building. They will manage inlet air temperatures entering the office spaces; An earthtube is being used to pre-heat / cool air. The efficiency of the earthtube is being augmented via geoexchange; Solar thermal tubes on the roof are being used to capture solar energy to warm the building in the winter.