The Seoul Performing Art Center

  • Seoul, South Korea
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When Nature meets Music

You have to welcome the universal music in Korea, in Seoul. I think that it is a good idea to put this Opera House in the middle of the river. I think it could be an idea of the meeting of nature and music.
The idea of Korea is always linked to the rock, to the trees, to the horizon in the sky and also to the water. So I think that the Opera House can be very emblematic of the idea of Korea in Seoul, if we arrive to link directly the ideas of Korea past and Korea essence and the music.
When you look at this island today, the island is too artificial and you cannot put a building in the site if the site is not positive and perfect.
I know that in the beginning the notion referred to was “l’Ile de la Cité” in Paris, but I propose to do an island in the city and not an island of the city.


And an island in the city could be in the middle of the modern city, the mountain, the rock, the trees, like the ideal image of Korean landscape and Korean spirit.
So I propose to create the music island with a very mysterious architecture, completely linked to the image of this island.


That is a question to resolve: the positive image of the island. We have to recreate a deep landscape, we have to work a lot on the transition between the bridges and the island, and I think the promenade with cars when you go through the island has to become a kind of new world, you are inside the island, I propose to have rocks, I propose to have falling water because the noise of falling water covers the noise of the cars, but also when you are inside you would have perspective through the falling water in the landscape and you would see trees.
It’s not only a bridge through an island, its really an urban architectural sequence linked to the new spirit and the new vocation of the island.
This island is a profile, an urban landscape profile on the urban city.
It is a contrast and you understand immediately that this island is something really unique, because in the middle of the trees, of the rocks, you can see “goldness”, you can see very precious architecture and you ask yourself: what is this island? I have the desire to come on this island… and I also think that this profile could be a very strong identity for the city, because architecture is landscape and landscape is architecture in this case, and the contrast is linked to the material dimension of gold, of transparency, and to the rocks, the trees.


Every tree is very precise, when you look at the skyline, you can distinguish every branch, every leaf, and the design of this island is of course not by chance, it is a very special design linked to other and very famous mountains. It’s also a game with scale, you get an impression that this island is bigger than it really is.
The first architectural act is to give a new advantage to this island, to give the idea of a mythic island and I think it is a very unique situation in the world.
Every big city in the world, when they create an Opera House, create generally a new icon for the city. I think this icon of nature in the modern city, in the middle of the river with such a precious design and such a precious landscape, with an architecture so completely integrated in the landscape could be very strong.
What is this architecture? This architecture means to insert into the landscape two musical instruments : the Opera House is a musical instrument to listen to human voice, the Concert Hall is a music instrument to listen to all the musics of the world.
And the two architectures are two different signs or symbols in the tree groves, in the landscape, with two shades of gold: a redder one for the Opera House, a yellower one for the Concert Hall and you can see, inside, different effects of lighting but also images: Orpheus for the Opera House, and for the Concert Hall, a more abstract evocation of trumpets of musical instruments.


You can figure out in this landscape many little volumes in gold and this is a very attractive and mysterious image.
Later on, we’ll have to work on the program, we’ll have to work with you.
I think this is a very complex program.
We can do the two main “instruments”, but if you want to follow on this idea of a Music Island, we can try to have also complementary programs: open air auditorium, terraces, bars, and varied day-time activities, and this could be a park in the city, a musical park in the city.
At night, of course, the architecture lighted by projectors could look like a dream.
So I follow this idea, I have the ambition for your city to create a very unique spot in the world.



Jean Nouvel