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In the Language of Respect: Arario Gallery Seoul Reopens in the Site of the Former SPACE Group

architecture Youn Yaelim Mar 02, 2023

SPACE March 2023 (No. 664)

​Exterior view of ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL​ / Images courtesy of ARARIO GALLERY


On Feb. 1, ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL, previously located in Sogyeok-dong, moved to Wonseo-dong, Jongno- gu, the site of the former SPACE Group of Korea Building. The complex comprises two brick buildings designed by Kim Swoo Geun in 1971 and 1976, followed by a glass building by Chang Sea Young in 1997 and Lee Sangleem’s renovation of a neighbouring hanok in 2002. These buildings long served as the home of the SPACE Group and were transformed into ARARIO MUSEUM in SPACE, in 2014, opening to the public. The reopening of ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL features the renovation of a separate building, Boljae, located next to the original space. The office building has been converted into an exhibition space for ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL, spanning from the first basement floor to the sixth floor. The new space was designed by the Japanese firm Schemata Architects (principal, Jo Nagasaka), which have worked in collaboration with members of the public on various projects, such as Blue Bottle Coffee Seongsu Café (2019), Blue Bottle Coffee Samcheong Café (2020), and ARARIO MUSEUM TAPDONG CINEMA (2020). Nagasaka explained that the key to the design was to ‘make no new claims’ while respecting the memories held by the space with architect Kim Swoo Geun. While the interior is designed as a white cube, appropriate for an exhibition space, the exterior, intermediate spaces, and appurtenant spaces use existing materials or are exposed. The exterior walls are made of black brick, in similar fashion to Kim Swoo Geun’s brick buildings, and the stairwells are made of rough concrete, preserving the raw surface of the existing building. The viewer experiences a contrast between the black bricks outside, the white walls of the exhibition hall, and the grayish concrete of the pathways. The opening exhibition of the gallery, ‘ROMANTIC IRONY’, is a group show featuring five artists: Gwon Osang, Lee Dongwook, Kim Inbai, Ahn Jisan, and Noh Sangho. Each floor of the building, from the basement to the fourth floor, is dedicated to a single artist, and for this exhibition, the fifth floor, which will be used as a VIP area in the future, is open for visitors to experience the entire building. The exhibition will close on Mar. 18.


Interior view of ARARIO GALLERY SEOUL​ / Images courtesy of ARARIO GALLERY