Only 45 miles from Seoul, the idyllic lakeside city of Chuncheon once thrived as a tourist destination and weekend getaway but has seen economic decline in recent years. The Thousand Plateaus observatory, designed by architect Janghwan Cheon with the firm Emer-sys, is one of several urban projects commissioned by the city to attract travelers to its underutilized areas. Sitting directly along the waterfront, the project’s curved aluminum panels extend horizontally on the ground plane to wrap around an adjacent one-story building—a defunct bicycle-repair shop with a flat roof.
A series of steps leads visitors up to and across the former shop’s roof into the three-story observation tower. Here they can climb to three cantilevered decks that offer views of the city and the surrounding mountains and lake, as well as the Sangjungdo and Ha-Jungdo islands across the water. Inside, perforations in the panels allow different patterns of light to permeate the building. “We aimed to make the process of climbing the observatory itself a rich visual and physical experience,” Cheon told RECORD.
Photos © Kyungsub Shin