david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room
david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room
dec 20, 2013

david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room

david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room
photo by kyungsub shin




for the the gwangju biennale foundation, architect david adjaye and writer taiye selasi have developed a ‘folly’ – the gwangju river reading room. as its name suggests, the pavilion is positioned on the embankment of the gwangju river, connecting the street level above with the grassy flood planes used as a seasonal park. adjaye was drawn to the project by the opportunity to collaborate with a like-minded novelist. selasi, who is a a rome-based author, shares adjaye’s ghanaian descent, london upbringing, and ivy league education. the structure draws reference from traditional korean pavilions and houses a human rights library of books, from chimamanda ngozi adichie’s ‘half of a yellow sun’ to emile zola’s ‘germinal’.

the reading room serves as a space for public gatherings and events
photo by kyungsub shin




the gwangju biennale foundation is proud to announce the collaborations with renown academics, writers, and artists grappling with both the history and contemporary relevance of the ‘folly’ that informs strategic interventions in public space.


gwangju folly II artistic director nikolaus hirsch and curators philipp misselwitz and eui young chun have developed a curatorial approach within the ambiguities of a ‘folly’ as a critical tool of inquiry to address the condition of public space. since the may 18, 1980 democratic uprising, the negotiation of public space in gwangju has played a crucial role in the transformation of south korea—it has even come to signify a model for effective political mobilization. contextualizing the potential of spatial interventions, the eight newly commissioned follies here seek to test the constitution of public space—in contemporary gwangju as well as in the global context.


the ‘follies’
eight follies have been realized and present a ‘detour into delirium’ throughout the city of gwangju, and at times they are even moving targets (on the metro or a mobile hotel), galvanizing the space between the everyday and the utopian, examining the present-day constitution of public space as a political arena:


david adjaye & taiye selasi: gwangju river reading room
ai weiwei: cubic meter food cart
seok-hong go & mihee kim: memory box
rem koolhaas & ingo niermann: vote
raqs media collective: autodidact’s transport
do ho suh & suh architects: in-between hotel
superflex: power toilets / UNESCO
eyal weizman with samaneh moafi: roundabout revolution


images of the construction

at the inaugural ceremony on november 10, 2013

roof project rendering


project rendering


all images courtesy the architect-writer team and gwangju biennale foundation

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