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Galleria Gwanggyo wins UNESCO-administered architecture prize, Prix Versailles 2021

Galleria in Gwangyo, Gyeonggi Province (Galleria)
Galleria in Gwangyo, Gyeonggi Province (Galleria)

The newly-built upscale department store Galleria in Gwanggyo, Gyeonggi Province, was recognized by UNESCO’s annual Prix Versailles Awards, winning the top Prix Versailles 2021 prize in the shopping mall category.

The sixth branch of Galleria -- South Korea’s first and major upscale department store franchise founded in the 1970s -- opened in March 2020 in Gwanggyo, a new town just 25 kilometers south of Seoul. The building was designed by OMA, an architectural firm headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in collaboration with Gansam Architects and Partners based in Seoul.

The design project was led by Chris van Dujin who joined OMA in 2014, leading the architectural firm’s projects in Asia. The building, which appears as a sculpted stone emerging from the ground, features a glass façade, revealing retail and cultural activities inside the building to passers-by. 

An interior view of Galleria in Gwangyo, Gyeonggi Province (OMA)
An interior view of Galleria in Gwangyo, Gyeonggi Province (OMA)

The building also accompanies a public loop formed with sequence of cascading terraces as spaces dedicated for exhibitions and performances.

A total of 24 projects have been declared as winners of Prix Versailles 2021, in eight fields – airports, campuses, passenger stations, sports, stores, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. Each category has three winners – “Prix Versailles 2021,” “Special prize interior 2021,” and “Special prize exterior 2021.”

The announcement of the winners from all categories was made in Paris, France, on Dec. 15 among 94 projects submitted to compete for the awards. Administered by the United Nations, the architectural award was inaugurated in 2015 in Paris to recognize the world’s most remarkable structures in terms of both interior and exterior architecture.

OMA is led by eight partners – Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, Chris van Duijn, Jason Long, and Managing Partner-Architect David Gianotten – and maintains offices in Rotterdam, New York, Hong Kong, Doha, and Australia.

OMA-designed buildings currently under construction are Taipei Performing Arts Centre, the renovation of Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) in Berlin, The Factory in Manchester, and the CMG Qianhai Global Trade Center in Shenzhen.

The department store is run by Hwanwha Galleria.

By Park Yuna (
Korea Herald daum