In Seoul Wise Architecture transformed a house into a small museum with a strong presence, devoted to the elderly lady taken away to the war as comfort women.
The Museum of War and Woman’s Human Rights sits deep in a residential area of Sungsan-Dong, and has only one door that is smaller than a normal-sized gate of a house.
There is no big signboard telling us about the museum. Instead, a guide walks with visitors inside and outside of the museum and tells us the story of the place. Visitors experience this uncertain situation in which is somewhat similar to the one that the elderly ladies experienced when they were taken away to the war as comfort women.
The house is located in a quiet neighborhood and is 30 years old and 100 Pyung (330.5 sqm) in size, and has a garden with thick grasses that appears to have been abandoned for a while. The house is too small to accommodate and realize the originally planned program for the museum, and as an extension of the house was difficult because of practical matters of budget and parking space, the spaces between walls outside and the retaining walls are used as semi-external spaces.
In the second week of August 2011, when the invitational design competition was going on, the elderly ladies who were former comfort women, civic groups and students were carrying out their usual Wednesday protest in front of the closed Japanese embassy. The protest went on for over an hour but there was no response from within. Only the CCTV camera was looking at them. As the architects was taking in this scene where the protesters were sweating heavily in the scorching summer heat and the Japanese embassy was firmly shut and protected by red walls, they wanted to build a museum that might be small but has a strong presence. That’s how the museum was born at the foot of Mt. Sungmi.
Museum of War and Woman’s Human Rights, Seoul, Korea Program: museum Architects: Wise Architecture Project team: Sook Hee Chun, Young Chul Jang, Jiyong Park, Kuhyeon Kwon, Aram Yun Area: 143.80 sqm Completion: 2012