Wolf D. Prix, born in 1942 in Vienna, is co-founder, Design Principal and CEO of COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. He studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology, the Architectural Association of London as well as at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Los Angeles.
Design Principal/ CEO: Wolf D. Prix
Project Partner: Michael Volk
Project Architect: Günther Weber
Design Architects: Martin Oberascher, Jörg Hugo
Project Team: Sergio Gonzalez, Rob Henderson, Guthu Hallstein, Matt Kirkham, Veronica Janovska, Dieter Segerer, Markus Baumann, Jasmin Dieterle, Anja Sorger, Jana Kucerova, Jan Brosch, Ivana Jug
3D Design: Renate Weissenböck, Jan-Ruben Fischer
Model: Paul Hoszowski, Ernst Stockinger, Vincenzo Del Monaco, Johannes Spiesberger, Marcus Ehrhardt, Hyoung Sub, Marc Werner
Competition Team: Victoria Coaloa, Rob Henderson, Paul Hoszowski, Jörg Hugo, Irakli Itoni, Alex Jackson, Matt Kirkham, Shannon Loew, Mona Marbach, Jens Mehlan, Tom Wiscombe, Burcu Bicer, Etienne Chanpenios, Monika Heliosch, Akvile Rimantaite
Text by Fabio Balducci
The Busan Cinema Center, renamed Dureraum (from the Korean term that is used to describe the pleasure of watching a movie in the company of others), is a mixed use complex for the performing arts located on the Nagdong riverbank in the city of Busan, South Korea’s major port and second only to the capital Seoul in terms of population. The complex was designed by Vienna-based studio COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, a collective of Austrian architects active since 1968, which of the original team only Wolf D. Prix remains. The studio won the international competition announced by the Municipality of Busan to provide the city with an important cultural centre. Inaugurated in September 2011 following a three-year build, the Dureraum houses, in a dramatically articulated body of massive proportions, spaces dedicated to cinema, theatre and dance in addition to a restaurant, an urban plaza, a 400-seat arena, areas for leisure activities, administrative areas and underground parking. The complex is also the official venue of the Busan International Film Festival, one of the most important film industry events in the whole of Asia.
The Viennese studio’s basic concept was grounded in the interplay of sweeping structural elements articulated by open and closed areas, public spaces and private service facilities, its multiform body incorporating overlapping levels, an expanse of luminous surfaces and spans of glass facades to create dramatic visual impact on visitors to the site. The emphasis given to the names that identify the key elements of the complex (Cinema Mountain, BIFF Hill, Urban Valley and so on), connected by a series of flying cantilevers, denotes the poetics contained within the compositional fluidity of the structure, through the integration of figuratively autonomous elements to describe an artificial landscape able to mirror its natural surroundings.
The most dynamic and visionary element is the Big Roof: an enormous overhanging wave-form structure, so named to differentiate it from the Small Roof which covers the cinema arena, underpinned by a single immense support called the Double Cone. The Big Roof, with its 85 metres on a total surface area of 163 metres, is today the world’s largest cantilevered structure. Its underbelly houses a world famous restaurant from which to enjoy spectacular panoramic views across the city. Its striking volume takes study into the roof archetype as a figuratively autonomous element to a new architectural level (already approached by the studio in the BMW Welt project in Munich), which from martyria cristiani by way of Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, culminates in this project. Here, the underside of each large roof is entirely overlaid in LED panels which project a continual cycle of creations by visual artists or dance performances captured in full motion graphics from the shows that are taking place within. By night, an uninterrupted sequence of lights and colour animate the Busan skyline, yielding a dynamic ever-changing image that is reflected in the water of the nearby river, gracing vistors to the Dureraum with a unique atmosphere not to be forgotten.
Coop Himmelb(l)au’s design for the Busan Cinema Center, which serves, among other things, as the site of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), represents a new combination of culture, entertainment, technology, and architecture with a public space. The concept envisions an urban center with superimposed areas: the Urban Valley, the Red Carpet Zone, the Walk of Fame, the Memorial Court, and the BIFF Canal Park. The buildings house theaters, cinemas, a conference center, offices, production studios, and restaurants, whose spatial boundaries flow into one another in a mixture of protected interior spaces and outdoor spaces, the largest of which also functions as an outdoor cinema with seating for 4,000 people. This open urban center, which is framed by the opaque functional areas on the plaza, is spanned by two large roofs fitted with computer-controlled LEDs. The larger of the two roofs projects a column-free, 85-meter cantilever over the Memorial Court. A multifunctional events center in the form of a double cone serves as a symbolic structure for the entrance. Designed as a steel-lattice shell sitting on spanned concrete slabs, it represents the only vertical supporting structure for the large projecting roof.