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Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) by Zaha Hadid’s latest structure is an over 300,000 square-foot cultural complex in Seoul that contains a landscaped park, exhibition halls, labs, and seminar rooms. The building has a facade made up of approximately 45,000 aluminum panels that was created using advanced three-dimensional digital construction technologies. Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is a blend of traditional buildings, relics and cutting-edge modern multicultural facilities.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-05-flickr-Robert-Koehler-759x427 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Robert Koehler

  • Korea’s leading fashion center, Dongdaemun will be born again as a new landmark. The site, where Dongdaemun Stadium has been dismantled a year ago, will become ‘Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Dongdaemun History & Culture Park’(or DDP in short), featuring a multi-culture complex for relaxation, greenery, and culture. DDP, combined with history, design, and culture, will add vitality to the commercial power in the Dongdaemun area, provide Seoul citizens with culture and relaxation, and become a true landmark of economic, cultural, and environmental value through restoring the history of Seoul.
Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-11-flickr-Aleksandr-Zykov-797x1200 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Aleksandr Zykov

  • The DDP has been designed as a cultural hub at the centre of Dongdaemun, an historic district of Seoul that is now renowned for its 24-hour shopping and cafes. DDP is a place for people of all ages; a catalyst for the instigation and exchange of ideas and for new technologies and media to be explored. The variety of public spaces within DDP include Art/Exhibition Halls, Conference Hall, Design Museum/Exhibition Hall/Pathway, Design Labs & Academy Hall, Media Centre, Seminar Rooms and Designers Lounge, Design Market open 24 hours a day; enabling DDP to present the widest diversity of exhibitions and events that feed the cultural vitality of the city.
Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-03-Virgile-Simon-Bertrand-759x496 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

Commercial Fashion Area and Old Image:

Dongdaemun is a leading center of fashion beyond Seoul but in Asia. Despite the economic value, Dongdaemun could not forsake its old image due to its proximity to now disused Dongdaemun Sport Stadium. The folk flea markets have taken over sport facilites, and the old and shabby baseball field needed an urgent renovation. Finally, change began. The crumbling Dongdaemun Stadium was demolished in December 2007 and now a design-themed multi-culture complex is taking shape. While maintaining value of commercial fashion industry, DDP wants to build a design center that will increase added value through strengthening the industry in the area.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-15-Virgile-Simon-Bertrand-759x483 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

Space for Citizens with Culture and Design:

DDP realizes the value of design and lead the future of Seoul through design. It raised the historical value of Dongdaemun by unearthing and restoring Seoul’s castle walls and cultural remains during the demolition of Dongdaemun Stadium. With the restoration of Seoul castle walls and formation of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, DDP also raised its cultural value through building a variety of multi-culture spaces for exhibitions and music concerts for citizens, event halls and design exhibitions, design gallery, information and education center, digital archive, and design & media lab. By building infrastructure to support design industry, DDP aims to elevate Seoul to the world’s design center and add economic value of Dongdaemun area and Seoul city.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-18-flickr-Forgemind-ArchiMedia-759x506 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Forgemind ArchiMedia

DDP returning the city to nature, ‘Metonymic Landscape’:

First of all, let’s examine the meaning granted to ‘Metonymic landscape’ by Zaha Hadid. ‘Metonymic’ means rhetoric expression describing indirectly by mentioning surrounding things associated instead of the thing itself. ‘Landscape’ means that physically expressed relation between human and environment. Namely, what Hadid attempted to express in DDP project was one landscape metonymically integrating diverse historical? cultural? urban? social? economic elements. Zaha Hadid paid attention to the general flow of Dongdaemun and its features which are differentiated every hour. DDP is positioned in ‘Metonymic landscape’ as a space linking park with design center physically and as a composition of park design not largely differing from Korean traditional garden design. The design element of DDP adopted by Zaha Hadid is started from the very Korean concepts.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-21-Virgile-Simon-Bertrand-759x988 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

  • As the Dongdaemun Stadium had become shabby and obsolete and the surrounding downtown area was deteriorating into a slum, the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to demolish the stadium and establish the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a multiple complex to house a center for the design and fashion industry and a history and culture park for citizens and visitors.
  • The Dongdaemun Design Plaza now stands out as a major landmark of Seoul. Besides the aesthetic value with the distinctively neofuturistic design, it is also seen as the most successful urban development project ever in Seoul as it has not just transformed the obsolete downtown region into South Korea’s vibrant fashion hub and popular tourist destination, but also successfully coordinated the intricately tangled conflicts between interested parties involved in the process.
Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-24-flickr-Chas-Pope-800x1200 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Chas Pope

Zaha Hadid Architects:

The DDP is an architectural landscape that revolves around the ancient city wall and cultural artefacts discovered during archaeological excavations preceding DDP’s construction. These historic features form the central element of DDP’s composition; linking the park, plaza and city together.

The design is the very specific result of how the context, local culture, programmatic requirements and innovative engineering come together – allowing the architecture, city and landscape to combine in both form and spatial experience – creating a whole new civic space for the city.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-34-Virgile-Simon-Bertrand-759x560 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

The DDP Park is a place for leisure, relaxation and refuge – a new green oasis within the busy urban surroundings of Dongdaemun. The design integrates the park and plaza seamlessly as one, blurring the boundary between architecture and nature in a continuous, fluid landscape. Voids in the park’s surface give visitors glimpses into the innovative world of design below, making the DDP an important link between the city’s contemporary culture, emerging nature and history.

The 30,000 square meter park reinterprets the spatial concepts of traditional Korean garden design: layering, horizontality, blurring the relationship between the interior and the exterior – with no single feature dominating the perspective. This approach is further informed by historic local painting traditions that depict grand visions of the ever-changing aspects of nature.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-42-Virgile-Simon-Bertrand-759x507 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

DDP encourages many contributions and innovations to feed into each other; engaging the community and allowing talents and ideas to flourish. In combination with the city’s exciting public cultural programs, DDP is an investment in the education and inspiration of future generations.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-55-flickr-Forgemind-ArchiMedia-759x506 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Forgemind ArchiMedia

DDP’s design and construction sets many new standards of innovation. DDP is the first public project in Korea to implement advanced 3-dimensional digital construction services that ensure the highest quality and cost controls. These include 3-dimensional Building Information Modelling (BIM) for construction management and engineering coordination, enabling the design process to adapt with the evolving client brief and integrate all engineering requirements. These innovations have enabled the team building DDP to control the construction with much greater precision than conventional processes and improve efficiencies. Implementing such construction technologies make DDP one of Korea’s most innovative and technological advanced constructions to date.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-65-flickr-Robert-Koehler-759x504 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© flickr-Robert Koehler

DDP opens to the public on 21 March 2014 by hosting Seoul Fashion Week. DDP will also host five separate design and art exhibitions featuring works by modern designers as well as the prized collection of traditional Korean art of the Kansong Art Museum.

Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza-DDP-By-Zaha-Hadid-Architects-73-flickr-Douglas-759x525 Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects

© Virgile Simon Bertrand

Project Data:

Project name: Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Location: 281 Euljiro-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Coordinates: 37.567014, 127.009753
Type: Cultural Center, Exhibition Center
Program: Multiple Cultural Space: Conference, Exhibition, Business Meeting, Launching Show, Marketing Event, Banquet

  • Building: 86,574 sqm
  • Site: 65,000 sqm
  • Park: 30,000 sqm

Project Year: 2007-2013
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 21 March 2014
Visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)’s website: here


  • 2014 – World Architecture Festival Award – Category: Culture – Finalist

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects – Studio London, 10 Bowling Green Lane, London, United Kingdom
Design: Zaha Hadid with Patrik Schumacher
Project Architect: Eddie Can
Project Managers: Craig Kiner and Charles Walker
Project Team:

  • Kaloyan Erevinov, Hooman Talebi, Matthew Wong, Martin Self, Carlos S. Martinez, Camiel Weijenberg, Florian Goscheff, Maaike Hawinkels, Aditya Chandra, Andy Chang, Arianna Russo, Ayat Fadaifard, Josias Hamid, Shuojiong Zhang, Natalie Koerner, Jae Yoon Lee, Federico Rossi, John Klein, Chikara Inamura, Alan Lu

Competition Team:

  • Kaloyan Erevinov, Paloma Gormley, Hee Seung Lee, Kelly Lee, Andres Madrid, Deniz Manisali, Kevin McClellan, Claus Voigtmann, Maurits Fennis

Local Consultants:

  • Structural: Postech
  • Mechanical: Samoo Mechanical Consulting (SMC)
  • Electrical and Telecom: Samoo TEC
  • Facade: Mac M&C
  • Civil: Saegil Engineering & Consulting
  • Landscaping: Dong Sim Won
  • Fire: Korean Fire Protection Engineering
  • Lighting: Huel Lighting Design
  • Quantity Survey: Kyoung Won
  • Cultural Asset: Josun
  • Acoustic: OSD
  • Noise / Vibration: RMS Technology
  • Energy Analytics: Daeil ENC
  • Maintenance: Doall CMC
  • Environmental Impact: Soosung Engineering
  • Planning Permission: Sewon P&D

International Consultants:

  • Structure/M.E.P.F. Services/Lighting/Acoustic: ARUP Engineers (London, U.K.)
  • Landsacpe: Gross Max (Edinburgh, U.K.)
  • Facade: Group 5F (Basel,Switzerland)
  • Geometry: Evolute (Vennia, Austria)
  • Quantity Survey: Davis Langdon & Everest (London, U.K.)

Text Description: © Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Images: © Zaha Hadid Architect, Virgile Simon Bertrand, flickr-Robert Koehler, flickr-Chas Pope,
flickr-Aleksandr, flickr-Aleksandr Zykovs, flickr-Forgemind ArchiMedia, flickr-Douglas, flickr-Nestor Lacle, flickr-Seoul Korea

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Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) / Zaha Hadid Architects
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