Atelier of spatial matters is a space production house based in Singapore. The atelier mediates the complexities of our built environment with architectonic clarity and precision. The atelier reassesses conventions to a point of radical departure, until the banal becomes strangely compelling. The atelier embraces the latent possibilities and anomalies of the extrinsic forces acting on architecture. The atelier insists on intellectual rigor. The atelier also opportunistically delivers architecture. The atelier is co-directed by Emerald Wu and Chong Ying Pai, registered Architects in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They each attained a Master in Architecture from Harvard University, and collectively hold professional experience from practices in Rotterdam, New York, San Francisco, and Palo Alto.
011. A national museum of literature is the latest in a series of museum proposals for South Korea by the atelier, emerging from the atelier's preoccupation with the contemporary conundrums of museums: challenges to the hegemony of the pure gallery, proliferation of storage, new forms of cultural production increasingly participatory, as well as the separation of cultural memory from specific sites—all seemingly detached from the ever-escalating post-Bilbao exuberance. A literature museum inherits these conundrums especially since written works preclude being simply displayed in abstract space, presuppose dense storage, and necessitate space for both personal interpretations and collective expressions.
The roof shapes the narrative of the museum. The oblique roof defers to the natural gradient of the site while composing an interior spanning from intimate to expansive. The salient roof stands out seemingly like a geometric abstraction against the rich surroundings and accentuates the programmatic elements manifesting on its surface: a skylit poetry circle, a meandering trail, a sunken terrace, and a contemplation courtyard, among other programs nuanced by literary traditions. Under the omnipresent roof, a set of topographical features seems to extend the undulating landscape into the interior, accommodating not only specific functions (such as an auditorium) but also the medley of human responses that literature evokes.
007. Atelier of spatial matters was among five shortlisted finalists in an international competition to design a national museum of urbanism and architecture in South Korea. The museum draws attention to its own idiosyncrasies that are themselves exhibits of architecture. A careful composition of these architectonic elements simultaneously forms a cohesive whole (as a singular work of architecture) and melds into the exhibits (as discrete sculptural objects,) seemingly straddling the contradictions of its inherent oxymoron. They shape a catalog of spatial conditions—not only in service of the building itself but also of the architectural exhibit—by functioning as viewing platforms, framing tools, and interactive instruments: stair landings double as lookout points, escalator as scenic ride, corridors as linear galleries, and skylights as periscopes, among others.
003. Atelier of spatial matters was awarded second prize in an international competition, organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, for a publicly accessible museum storage facility situated in an outskirt of Seoul. The atelier's proposal speculates on the architectural possibilities of the tectonics of storage—of vast protective enclosures, automated storage and retrieval systems, random assemblages of objects, high-tech security, and carefully calibrated atmospheres—to amplify its public experience as an oversized cabinet of curiosities. Pronounced circulation elements, negotiating the terrain and announcing a public program, are appended to a stark storage box. Inside, elevated public catwalks traverse the dense space as trails full of serendipitous discoveries.