Korean Bathhouse Contest, Studio MRDO And Studio LaM’s Underground Dome Wins

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    Interiors Interiors Apr 11, 2017 04:24 PM EDT


    Studio MRDO and Studio LaM of the New York have recently won the Korean bathhouse contest. The studios presented the idea of a theatrical underground pool set in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.

    The theme of the Korean bathhouse contest is "Crossing Parallel(s): Bathhouse as a Metaphorical Theatre." According to Dezeen, it reimagines a communal performance by North and South Korean participants to help relieve political tensions between the two territories.

    The 38th parallel is a circle of latitude that had set the original border between North and South Korea before the Korean War. Following the 1953 Armistice Agreement, each side agreed to move their troops back 2,000 meters from the line that formed a buffer zone between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North) and the Republic of Korea (South), which gave birth to DMZ.

    In the winning design of the Korean bathhouse contest, double helical ramps spiralling down towards a communal pool at the bottom of an underground dome. Natural light is also seen shining through to the water below an oculus at the ground level.

    The performance for the Korean bathhouse contest was divided into three sequences. First, participants walk along the 38th parallel and entered the theatre through separate entrances. After passing through the checkpoint and changing rooms, the participants confront one another from the opposite sides of the ramp.

    Participants observe each other's feelings as they descend the ramp, amid passing through "layers of tension and relaxation." The designers call these layers as "a process of accumulating ambivalent communal emotions." Upon reaching the pool, all emotions experienced in the descent are liquefied as the actors are submerged and another performance begins: one of spontaneous conversations and connections.

    The Korean bathhouse Contest was organized by an architecture-research initiative, Arch Out Loud. The ideas competition attracted about 300 proposals and was judged by a panel of known architects including Moon Hoon and Stan Allen.

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