Mapo-Gu Museum . Seoul

AZPML . JOHO architecture . renders: AGraph

The act of building cities and democracies re- lies in the possibility of delaying the immediacy of speech and action, of creating reservoirs of speeches and objects which enable the citizens to create a common space which resists the im- mediacy of the individual interests and wills.

International Competition for Rehabilitating Mapo Oil Depot into a Cultural Depot Park
“If the polis was the first historical answer to the question of how to make things public, then the key means to render political objects public is surely the citizens’ ability to capture the “things” for posterity. The res publica ari- ses from this act of capturing objects. If you do not possess suitable techniques for arresting them, then you cannot stabilize fleeting events and cannot give voice to them in the political domain. …the polis is a reservoir for symbolic objects that are to be given a longer presence in the shared community.”
Peter Sloterdijk Atmospheric Politics

A true democracy –and a true city- cannot be built simply by the frenzy of creating new spaces. It requires to produce the devices to capture the past, so we can project the future collectively. It is in this respect that the opportunity offe- red by the decommissioned Mapo Oil Depot and its surrounding land is important for the City of Seoul. Built during the years of rushed development, which coincided with the first global oil crisis, represent now an opportunity to construct this public spaces that need to be preserved from economic interests in order to construct the collective. The Mapo Oil Depot is also a loaded remnant of another era in which the economy was based on oil, a ready-made monument of an age which is now past, but that was crucial in the construction of the City of Seoul.
From an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy
While the economy of the 70’s in Korea depen- ded on the oil flow, and the Mapo Oil Depot was built in order to be able to regulate and con- trol such flow, the current condition is perhaps aiming for a different type of institution: one that will be able to produce a stationary state to those other flows that rule the contemporary economy: information. In this sense, we belie- ve that the condition of a reservoir is one that captures perfectly Sloterdijk’s idea of the city as a reservoir of language and symbolic objects needed to construct a functioning collective in- habitation. The possibility to extend this idea of a “reservoir” to the whole land that surrounds the Depot and which has been closed to the citizens offers a repository of another precious good in contemporary culture: nature. Water and vegetation have also become a crucial com- modity to the contemporary city, which needs to be preserved. Just how Seoul City Government stored oil in the 70’s, a contemporary Seoul City Government will recycle the same facilities to store information, knowledge, wa- ter, and autoctonous vegetation into this new urban reservoir. A new ecology of knowledge and sustainable resources has come to replace the ecology of oil and real estate, and the recy- cling of the old oil depot and its surrounding is the act that symbolizes this new spirit.
A new institution for Seoul: The Centre for the Knowledge Society
The Mapo Oil Depot will not only recover the tanks as a Seoul ad hoc monument, but will create a new type of public space where Seoul citizens will be able to access historical internet databases and data mining engines, as well as environmental data. It will specialize in hosting exhibitions and publications related to the so- ciety of knowledge and performance by media artists. This new facility will be created partially as the redevelopment of the former oil tanks, now decommissioned, and the surrounding land. While the hard infrastructure for specific activities will be hosted in the tanks, the park will act as a diffuse field where activities may unfold in the open space. The new centre’s activities will be distributed between the tanks and the park, using a tubular connection between the tanks, but also a more contingent set of park paths.

Our proposal is to create a new Seoul Centre for the Knowledge Society, which will provide a series of venues which will provide venues for all kinds of manifestations related to Media, Data and the Knowledge Society. Each one of the five decommissioned oil depots will be oc- cupied with a distinctive function, which will be determined and shaped by their characteristic drum shape. Taking into account the capacity and location of the oil tanks, we propose to dis- tribute the program as follows:
Tank #1: it will be left in its original state, simply painted and maintained to preserve its original state and eventually serve as a venue for events, installations of performances which could take advantage of the more raw state of the depots.
Tank #2: it is the largest, with 1095m2 available, and a volume of 16,620 m3. We propose to de- dicate it to an auditorium/performance space, with a ring of auxiliary facilities for the performances, located underneath a circular stand to host up to 840 spectators with the use of movable stands.
The tank #2 will be thermally insulated inside, with 150mm of high density Styrofoam, and acoustically conditioned through the use of perimetral curtains. The circular walls can be used as an immersive projection screen, su- rrounding the public 360⁰, but they can also be covered by red velvet heavy curtains, when the acoustic behavior of the space is predominant.
The steel roof of this tank is severely dama- ged and our proposal is to remove it and repla- ce it by a glass roof which will enable people to watch the sky at night. A system of blackout screens will be installed on the roof in order to be able to produce a complete blackout of the room.
Tank #3: it has an available surface in plan of 740m2 and a volume of 11,136 m3. This is the most central tank and therefore it will concen- trate the information and the central adminis- tration of the complex. It will also host the library and the bibliographic and informational archives, including server rooms etc. It will also provide a lecture room for 100 spectators. The reading room will be located on a day lit mez- zanine above the functional facilities.
Tank #3 will be also insulated with 150mm of Styrofoam, including the roof, which will be repaired and re-painted. The roof will be perforated with polycarbonate skylights, bringing light onto the reading room. The reading room will connect to the lower floor through a central void, and will be totally open. The perimetral wall will be entirely clad with book shelves for the accessible archive. Given the scale of the bookshelf, a set of robots will be able to deliver the books to the users.
Tank #4: it is the largest available with a surface of 1095m2 and a volume of 16,620 m3. We pro- pose to locate a temporary exhibition facility inside. The existing volume will be complemen- ted with a ring-shaped mezzanine below which contains administration, storage and public toi- lets. The mezzanine surrounds a central space with the full height of the tank for large scale installations. A small cafeteria will be located on the south side, above the exhibition ring, with views over the Han River and the Soccer Stadium.
Tank #4 will require also the repair of the roof, and the insulation of all its faces with 150mm of Styrofoam. The inside will be lined with two layers of high quality plasterboard on a cold-rolled galvanized profile substructure, which will allow hanging and mounting for the ins- tallations. The mezzanine will be designed to withstand 5KN/m2. A series of polycarbonate skylights will be installed on the roof.
Tank #5: It provides 360m2 in plan and 5,266 m3 of volume. It will contain the permanent exhibition space and some public facilities and storage.
In Tank #5 we would also specify 150mm of Sty- rofoam insulation layer and two layers of high quality plasterboard on a cold-rolled galvanized profile substructure will provide the strength to be used as an adequate exhibition surface. Roof will be repaired and provided with polycarbo- nate skylights for daylight intake.
Every tank will have an independent, high-effi- ciency environmental control system, reliant on ground source heating and cooling. Given the high volume of space inside, the heating and cooling will be delivered via concrete radiant floors, and air ventilation will use the large hei- ght of 15m in the tanks to provide natural ven- tilation. Two 1,6T hydraulic lifts will be serving tanks #2, #3, #4 and #5, and a perimetral stair will bring people from the Pipe level to the facilities.
The tanks will be accessed by a tubular pipe located above the tanks at level +43,30m for the public, but will also have vehicular access through the road running south of the tanks via a series of precast concrete tunnels. These tunnels will be used generally for logistic pur- pose, but eventually could be used for disabled access and fire escape.

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