OMA rethinks department store architecture with Galleria Gwanggyo

Designer OMA
Project Galleria in Gwanggyo
Year 2020
Location Gwanggyo, South Korea
Typology Retail
Photo Hong Sung Jun, Courtesy of OMA

The Dutch Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) headed by Rem Koolhaas recently completed a new luxury goods mall, Galleria, in Gwangayo, South Korea, a new town 25 km south of the capital, Seoul. The Gwangayo mall, located in the center of town and surrounded by apartment towers with nearby Lake Suwan behind it, is the sixth branch of South Korea’s biggest department store franchise, Hanwha Galleria.

The building, 12 floors tall with overall floor space of 150,000 square meters, looks like a monolith rising from the asphalt pavement with facades covered in a mosaic created with 125,000 granite tesserae simulating the texture of a mineral forming the hinge between the nature of the park it overlooks and the Gwangayo urban environment.

The building features a faceted glass tunnel with iridescent tones embedded in the edifice - like a crystal that outcrops from a rock - that in its spiraling connects the street-level entrance to the garden on the roof, provides light to the interior and offers panoramic views of the city and the lake behind it. 

This public route - formed by a sequence of cascading terraces - guides visitors into the Galleria department store, which in addition to shopping areas also has numerous bars and restaurants, a cinema, a cultural center and areas for events and exhibits open to the public.

The design of OMA for this building is a revolution in department store architecture, which usually tries to keep customers oblivious of passing time and fully absorbed in the retail experience.

A place where retail and culture, city and nature collide, Galleria in Gwanggyo offers a get away from the predictability of shopping.

Pasqualino Pietropaolo 


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