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Urban Cave

Jiwon Kweon, Seyeon Kim & Jiho Oh
South Korea

Many people living in modern times are tired of heavy work and stress. This building was designed to help them forget about society for a while and revitalize them to relieve stress and return to a lively daily life. We wanted to forget that we were in the city center, but were in the city, and create a space where we could fully focus on retreat activities and our inner self. We thought that the space that is physically separated from the outside, has a sense of heterogeneity from the components of the city, and sensitive to small light and sound is similar to a cave, so we designed it with the title and concept of ‘Urban Cave’, a cave for retreat in the city.
Urban Cave is located under and in the center of Mapo Bridge, Seoul, Korea. The need for retreat, such as stress relief and vitality charging, is a universal demand worldwide, not limited to any one country. Therefore, we have found places with a cave-like atmosphere, common in many cities around the world. Under the bridge is a universal element that can be found in many cities and is an unusual place separated from the land. In addition, We thought it was a place where the characteristics of the Urban Cave appeared well because the shade and sunlight harmonize and give a similar feeling to the cave. Mapo Bridge is located along the Hangang River, the center of Seoul, and has the stain that the most suicide occurs in Korea. By building retreat center in the center of this place, we hope that it will change the negative image of Mapo Bridge and at the same time be reborn as a place to stabilize people's minds and bodies and awaken their five senses through the atmosphere given by the cave.
Urban Cave actively utilizes the element of abundant water under the bridge. Water spaces are located on each floor. The sound of water flowing quietly here gives a sense of psychological stability and the light reflected from the water creates a mysterious internal atmosphere, and also has a conscious meaning of washing up external concerns and starting retreat by crossing these water spaces. One of the biggest external features of Urban Cave is the gap. The sunlight that enters thinly through narrow gaps between the room and the room allows you to feel the curiosity about the disconnected outside and the touch of rough materials. The water falling to the outside through the gap connected to the inner water space becomes a waterfall, making it feel more like a cave. The other is mass and material. The primitive feeling given by large and simple processed mass and rough stone close to nature gives a sense of difference compared to the panoramic view of the city behind it. Overall, it has a vertical gradient proportion. These two factors, gap and mass, move away from the bridge close to urban civilization and gradually place large and disorderly arrangements as it goes to water close to nature. As a result, the floor height gradually increases as it goes down. The mass, which is cut diagonally between the floors, also increases in angle as it goes down, so Urban Cave can receive more diverse degrees of sunlight.
To access the Urban Cave, you go down to the ferry not far from the building and enter through a small boat. As you get closer to the building, the sound of water and mist caused by the waterfall increase, giving you the feeling of entering a separate space from the city. If you go inside through the mist, you will see a small moss island. Get off here and start a full-fledged retreat activity. Modern people are not only under heavy stress through work, but also breaking their biorhythms and dulling their senses due to exposure to electronic devices for a long time. Therefore, along with retreat, We thought there was a need for a program that stimulated the five senses and could return to a healthier body. The darkness and silence of the cave are places where stimulation can be controlled more efficiently. Therefore, it is composed mainly of programs that can purify our bodies, focus more on our inner self, and revitalize our five senses by stimulating our five senses in a place separated from our daily lives. The three-story building consists of rooms and private spaces suitable for the programs assigned to each floor. The first floor is a spa. It is a space that stimulates tactile senses and vision felt by contact with water and saw waterfalls, moss islands, and Han River landscapes seen through wide windows, and is a place where physical healing is the main focus. The second floor is a meditation room. This maze-like place has different sizes, lighting, and interior composition for each space, so you can feel a variety of personal impressions for each room. Meditation room is a space where you can obtain stability and composure through auditory stimulation through the sound of water in the waterfall and the Han River, and inner healing is the main focus. If you climb up the middle ramp, you will find the third floor. The third floor consists of cafe and tea room where you can make and drink your own beverage. It is a space where you can stimulate your sense of smell and taste at the same time when drinking a drink.

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