First Look – The Art of Shopping

Fall 2011
The current retail climate in South East Asia capitalizes on department stores as social and semi-cultural meeting places. Photos courtesy of Galleria Cheonan, 2011, UNStudio©, Kim Yong Photographer


Department stores in South East Asia are no longer solely a commercial space with the usual brick-and-mortar attributes. They now offer shoppers an expanded cultural and social experience through animation and artful design.


A public space at Galleria Cheonan.

The Galleria Cheonan incorporates cultural and public spaces, a VIP room and specialty supermarket on the lower level.

One such example is UNStudio’s Galleria Centercity in Cheonan, Korea which incorporates a number of cultural and public spaces, including an art and cultural center and a VIP room. In the basement, a food court and specialty supermarket constitute another destination within the building, which is simultaneously integrated with the overall design strategy. On the outside, this is translated into an appearance that creates an optical illusion. During the day the building has a monochrome reflective appearance, while at night soft colors are used to generate waves of colored light across the large-scale illuminated surface. Computer generated animations specially designed by UNStudio are incorporated into the lighting design and refer to themes related to the department store, such as fashion, events, art and public life.

Exterior photo of at Galleria Cheonan at night.

During the day, Galleria Cheonan has a monochrome reflective appearance, while at night soft colors are used to generate waves of light. Photos courtesy of Christian Richters

The vertical lines on the façade make the scale of the building unreadable — does it contain three floor levels or fifteen? On the inside, this play with scale and dimension is continued as a layered and varied space which encourages investigation as you move through and up the building. The outer façade prevents direct sunlight from entering the building, ensuring a cooler environment, while the use of white finishes throughout the interior minimizes the need for artificial lighting. All in all, an illuminating experience!