discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens

william mulvihill photographs saya park in south korea

 

In 2018, Álvaro Siza collaborated with Portuguese architect Carlos Castanheira to build a complex of structures set in a woodland area in North Gyeongsang, South Korea. The project, known as ‘Saya Park’, features three buildings, with the concrete art pavilion being the largest and housing various exhibition galleries.

 

While exploring the park, architectural photographer William Mulvihill, was struck by the juxtaposition of old and new architecture, finding himself captivated by the pavilions and the way they reinterpret Korean architecture in a modern context. Mulvihill decided to create a photography series that showcases the minimalist design language of Siza, focusing on the clean lines and perforated patterns, as well as the surrounding natural context. 

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
the concrete art pavilion from above | all images courtesy of William Mulvihill

 

 

simple observatory with a complex essence

 

To enter Saya Park, visitors first pass through a pine forest, immersing themselves in the natural environment and taking in the picturesque landscape. The views are partially obscured by gnarled branches and vegetation, providing a sense of filtered intimacy. A concrete observatory tower designed by Álvaro Siza (find more here) and Carlos Castanheira (find more here) is situated atop a small hill in the valley and draws visitors with its design. The ascent to the top of the tower offers fleeting glimpses of the surroundings through the windows. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy south views from the balcony, with the grandeur of the mountains dominating the deep valley below.

 

On the descent from the tower, visitors may feel introspective, returning to the earth and reflecting on the experience. The exposed concrete finish of the tower contrasts with the purity of its form, resulting in a striking design that appears simple but has a complex essence.

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
a concrete observatory tower atop a small hill peeks through the vegetation

 

 

art pavilion invites visitors to experience space, light, and time

 

The Art Pavilion is the largest structure in the Saya Park complex, designed to adapt to and modify the hill site it occupies. Guests approach the pavilion along a forest pathway, flanked by high concrete walls with a rough texture that belies their elegant form. En route, they pass by the Library, an isolated volume designated for study and information. Upon entering the Art Pavilion, visitors are absorbed by the structure, which feels like a sculpture that invites them to experience space, light, shade, time, and the surrounding environment. The journey culminates in an external view of infinity that emphasizes the vastness of the natural landscape. Inside the pavilion, individuals are encouraged to search for their own internal, personal infinity.

 

‘In architecture space is time. In architecture light is defines form. In architecture the route surprises. In architecture rough materials convey elegance. In architecture the function is being there. In architecture the shadow reveals the beauty.’ explain Álvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira. 

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
visitors to the art pavilion are immersed in an exploration of space, light, shade, and time

 

 

illuminated Chapel encourages meditation and introspection

 

Initially lacking a chapel, Saya Park had numerous symbols to encourage meditation and introspection, allowing visitors to experience moments of beauty in the open. However, a meditative space was also needed. Thus, the Chapel was designed to tuck into the hillside and open up to the East, welcoming the light of the day. It shares the location with other emotionally significant spaces and symbolic structures, with a geometry that reflects its pure function.

 

Upon entering the Chapel, visitors are bathed in light from a small opening above, creating a startling and profound effect. While intended for Christian worship, the space also inspires spirituality, encouraging contemplation and meditation. The building’s compact size makes it a remarkable feat of architecture, as space, time, and meditation come together in this little building, much like they do in the soul.

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
the chapel is designed to inspire spirituality, contemplation and meditation

alvaro-siza-minimalist-concrete-pavilions-south-korea-william-mulvihill-designboom-full-02

the chapel tucks into the hillside and opens up to the east

 

william Mulvihill on capturing Álvaro Siza’s architecture

 

‘My photographs of the Álvaro Siza pavilions focused on their modern, minimalist design. I used framing and
composition techniques to capture the pavilions’ clean lines and unique features, such as the perforated patterns
in the roof of the ‘Shadow’ pavilion and the curved glass walls of the ‘Light’ pavilion.’ shares William Mulvihill.

 

‘Finally, my photographs of the park’s natural surroundings aimed to capture the architecture in context surrounding.
I used different lighting conditions to create different moods, from the warm, golden light of sunrise to the cool,
blue tones of sunset. I also experimented with different compositions, including panoramic shots and close-ups
of flowers and trees.’

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
mulvihill’s series focuses on the clean lines and perforated patterns, as well as the surrounding natural context

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
the concrete materiality of the structures is combined with the greenery of the park

alvaro-siza-minimalist-concrete-pavilions-south-korea-william-mulvihill-designboom-full-04

light, shadow, and rough concrete characterize the interior of the pavilions

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
geometric perforations offer dramatic lighting effects within the buildings

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
the ascent to the top of the tower offers fleeting glimpses of the surroundings

alvaro-siza-minimalist-concrete-pavilions-south-korea-william-mulvihill-designboom-full-01

once at the top, visitors can enjoy south views from the balcony

discover álvaro siza's concrete pavilions in south korea through william mulvihill's lens
the concrete observation tower sits atop of a small hill in the park

alvaro-siza-minimalist-concrete-pavilions-south-korea-william-mulvihill-designboom-full-03

the exposed concrete finish of the tower contrasts with the purity of its form

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