New horizons: Seamarq Hotel
Client: Hyundai Heavy Industries Co.
Architect: Richard Meier & Partners
Location: Haean-ro 406 Beon-gil, KR–Gangneung
"New Horizons" is the motto of the next Winter Olympics, taking place in South Korea in 2018. Preparations are already underway in Pyeongchang, the city that will be hosting the Games, and are also being made in neighbouring regions and the coastal city of Gangneung, where the hotel project is part of a revitalisation effort. Whatever the case, the commission, Richard Meier & Partners' first in the southeast Asian country, has already opened new horizons for the architects.
A promontory with the hotel at its further reaches extends out slightly into the Pacific, and is reached by an approach road that flows between pine-covered hills to end at the hotel's organically shaped entrance plaza. For Meier, the local topography was an important parameter in his design in that the hotel was to merge in with the landscape and leave it as untouched as possible. The volumes of the buildings are thus oriented to the hilly topography, with the eleven-storey guestroom tower rising up from the top of the highest elevation. A second, low building that houses a restaurant and spa nestles at the foot of the hill, connected to the tower by a bridge.
The outer skin of the hotel complex has been given a light, white colour, a hue that was predominant in the early seaside spa architecture of North Germany, where the gusty climate meant that the waterfront villas often had to be repainted. The architects have countered this problem by going for a self-cleaning aluminium façade.
To diminish the cool impression created by the outer skin, use is made indoors of wood for accentuation, with warm lighting also helping to create a cosy atmosphere. The interiors are reminiscent of early buildings by Richard Meier, such as the Smith House or the Douglas House, where much emphasis was placed on open living spaces and transparency, and accordingly the Seamarq Hotel's large floor-to-ceiling windows create an impression of the outdoors being drawn into the buildings, and Meier's signature style can also be seen in the filigree character of the fenestration and the balcony balustrades. All the rooms provide singular views of the Pacific or the nearby Taebaek Mountains. "New Horizons" – the motto of the next Winter Olympics – will certainly be coming true for the hotel guests.