SPACE Magazine
SPACE Magazine
Oil Tank Culture Park

Oil Tank Culture Park

Heo Seogoo + RoA_rchitects

Heo Seogoo is a graduate of Hanyang University School of Architecture and studied at Berlage Institute in Amsterdam. Heo was a Professor in the Hanyang University School of Architecture and a representative of the architectural firm Heo Ga Bang. He has been awarded the Korea Architects Association Award (2002). Currently he is the CEO of Wondoshi Architect’s Group. Baek Sangjin is the Director of RoA_rchitects. After studying philosophy at Korea University, he graduated from Hanyang University. Since 2014, he established RoA_rchitects with Kim Kyungdo and Lee Ilseong, and engages with various architectural works. Kim Kyungdo studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich) after the graduation of Hanyang University. Kim worked at VNF_architect, and currently co-leading RoA_rchitects while teaching at Hanyang University School of Architecture as an adjunct Professor. Lee Ilseong graduated from Gyewon College of Art and Design and Kookmin University School of Architecture. Based on various experiences at ARUM Architects, VNF_architect and POSCO A&C, Lee currently runs RoA_rchitects.


Experimenting with the Achievements of Public Architecture and the New ‘Publicness’
Cho Kyungjin
(professor, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Seoul National University)


When I first visited the Oil Tank Culture Park it was summer 2013. It was to screen the ideas competition of the ‘The first step to changing the Mapo Oil Reserve Base’. I was surprised that this space exists in the middle of Seoul, and the impression given by the abandoned oil tanks was so intense. Since then, I have been able to observe the planning process of Oil Tank Culture Park by participating in the international competition and the advisory committee. On 1st of September 2017, the Oil Tank Culture Park opened its doors. The conversion of the oil reserve base to a cultural park implies the character and value of this space. It is still unclear how this new space will relate to the lives of local citizens. The purpose of this essay is to investigate the nature of the planning process employed by the Oil Tank Culture Park and how it was built, as well as how to enumerate the achievements as a public construction and the future challenges for the Park.
The planning concept for the Mapo oil storage site began with ‘the Application Plan and Master Plan for Mapo Oil Reserve Base’ in 2013. It was an unknown site at that time, but there were various suggestions made for the utilization of space. The suggestions aimed at a cultural development, such as a digital media centre, an environmental exhibition education centre, and an image cultural complex. The Seoul Institute gathered opinions from the citizen and experts through a public ideas contest and discussion, while establishing a master plan. The planning vision was set as ‘a place for citizens and a complex cultural space on the theme of environment and recycling’, and the functions determined as ‘performance and lectures, exhibitions and experiences, and information exchange’.
Based on these results, an international design competition was held in August 2014. It is not difficult to differentiate works from design plans across a varied spectrum that follow the direction of design principles: ‘preserve the value of location of industrial heritage with five massive oil tanks, and make the most of unique interior spatial characters of the tanks. The prize-winning work, Petro: Reading the Story of the Site, by Heo Seogoo + RoA_rchitects was drawing particular attention in the competition. In the commentary, the work was appraised as ‘the only work that combines the tank and its background by restraint of excessive design and drawing the land’s own potential’. The idea known as ‘the archaeology of architecture’ is the exact solution for this project. It was a process to construct a space by imagining the fabrication process of the oil tanks, as if they were excavating artifacts and finding the traces of intervention in the original place in reverse order and revealing it. It was original that restored the work road for building the petroleum storage facility, used it as an access road to the new space, and connected other time and space. The work’s in-depth design research, powerful narrative, and the visual rhetoric are notable.
I visited the recently completed site several times. The newly built Tank 6 were an exquisite choice in that they accommodated the necessary programmes and relieved the spatial programme demands of the other tanks, thereby preserving the Tank 3 as its original form. Tank 1, 2, 4 and 5 are creating distinctive spaces with different spatial designs that respond to their terrain conditions. Tank 4 is the best place to experience the aura of the location, creating a unique performance and exhibition space with minimal intervention. The Tank 5 invites an architectural scenery promenade through the intersection of the tank, concrete structure, and interior and exterior spaces of the exposed bedrock. The architects and the construction team also tried to find the work path at the time of construction. It is a moment in which we can see their enthusiasm and passion. The vision of ‘environment and regeneration’ has been implemented with consistency in its spatial detailing. In order to imagine the old shape of the place, the existing concrete retaining walls and oil pipelines, that have now grown moss, and the gauges to measure the oil stocks are utilized and preserved as they are. The exterior and interior walls of Tank 6 recycled the steel plate from the Tank 1 and 2, and the uphill stone steps of Tank 3 are from recycling of the rocks and the removal of the floor surface of Tank 4. In order to realise an eco-friendly concept, the remodeled tank space is basically using geothermal heat for its air conditioning and heating, but the spatial layout in the tank entrance is also a bold solution.

There are Tank 1, Tank 2, Tank 3, Tank 4, Tank 5 and Tank 6 from the left clockwise on this photograph.

Tank 1 / The architect tore down the former tank and moved it to Tank 6, and newly built the walls and roof as a glass pavilion.

Tank 2 / The architect tore down the former tank and moved it to Tank 6, and made the ground floor as a outdoor stage.

(from the left) Tank 3 & Tank 4 & Tank 5 / The architect left Tank 3 as it was and created Tank 4 and 5 as distinctive spaces with different spatial designs that respond to their terrain conditions.

Tank 6 / The exterior and interior walls of Tank 6 recycled the steel plate from the Tank 1 and 2.

Is the Oil Tank Culture Park a cultural space or a park? There is no need to distinguish between the two. It is a cultural space, a park and a new type of public space. According to the legal classification, it is a cultural park designated as a city planning facility, except for the parking lots currently used as vacant lots. The most appropriate case has emerged since the addition of cultural parks to the categories of city parks according to the ‘Urban Parks and Greenery Act’. It should also serve as cultural contents for urban residents, but it should also have the character of a daily park for nearby residents. The trail to Mt. Maebong led visitors to use the park for walking and climbing, and allowed visitors to have different experiences of viewing the cityscape on the mountain. However, compared to the completeness of the building, the exterior space needs improvement. The fact that the storytelling of the internal space does not extend to the external space is an unsatisfactory feature of the site. Ordinary park visitors could have felt strange, because the strict and restrained style of inner space is also applied to the exterior. There is a feeling that the strangeness of the strict inner space is applied to the outer space, which makes it unfamiliar to ordinary park visitors. Some point out that there is not enough green space or convenience facilities. It is also the result of the process that space operators demanded for empty space. I expect that the variable empty lot will evolve more usefully.
The Oil Tank Culture Park have recently achieved a high level of perfection as public buildings, with the realisation of a consistent vision from its initial planning stages to the finest construction details. The general planner, who coordinated the planning and management of the competition and the consultation in the implementation of the winner’s work, has contributed greatly to these results. In the process of planning, several subjects, including Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is the enforcement body, cooperated and overcame numerous difficulties. For example, at the time of the contest, the parking lot site was not included as a target, but was included later by the city who was actively promoting it as a park site. This place will serve as an open space for the marketplace.
Above all, the difficulty during planning and decisionmaking was the question of whether to accommodate the ‘BIBIL-giji’ residing on the site of the information facility. BIBIL-giji is a loose autonomous community of twelve teams experimenting with alternative life, and dreaming of self-reliance and sustainability. They have run a shared space of workshops, vegetable gardens, kitchens, and have spread their way of living differently to the local citizens. The Oil Tank Culture Park had the will and capacity to become an experimental space to learn and practice social participation, while communicating and planning the lives of citizens themselves. Through a long consultation with the administration, BIBIL-giji could move in a part of the park. It was a meaningful decision to accept young people who occupied public space and aimed for alternative values in the public domain. Now it remains as a true subject for new imagination and experimentation at the Oil Tank Culture Park.
The Oil Tank Culture Park aims to be a place producing culture beyond the place where culture is consumed. It means that the contents provided by the administration will not be enjoyed by the citizens, but citizens will find the appropriate use while planning the contents as the subject of the space. To make the place where the citizen becomes the subject and to spread culture, the park is now operated through a committee. How will they create and operate a new public space? What value will they diffuse and spread here? The new experiment in publicness lies before us.

Tank 4 / It is the best place to experience the aura of the location, creating a unique performance and exhibition space with minimal intervention.

Tank 4 / In order to imagine the old shape of the place, the existing concrete retaining walls and oil pipelines, that have now grown moss are utilized and preserved as they are.


Cho Kyungjin is currently a professor of Department of Landscape, Architecture Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Seoul National University and the Director of the Environmental Planning Institute. Cho is the general planner of the Seoul Botanic Park, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018. He is also working as a board member of Seoul Green Trust and a co-representative of Yongsan Park Citizen Forum.

Architect: Heo Seogoo + RoA_rchitects (Baek Sangjin, Kim Kyungdo, Lee Ilseong)
Design team: design competition team ? Park Junghyun, Kim Taehyung, Teamten Group / construction design team ? Kim Bongsu, Baek Sangmi, Kim Inseob, Kim TaeHyung, Kim Hyungsoon, Cho yoonjeong, Park woojin
Location: 1st - mountain 53-1, Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul / 2nd - 661, Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Programme: 1st - tourism and rest facility, culture and assembly facility, education and study facility / 2nd - 1st class neighbourhood living facility
Site area: 1st - 101,500㎡ / 2nd - 35,212㎡
Building area: 1st - 5,324.61㎡ / 2nd - 273.16㎡
Gross floor area: 1st - 7,256.31㎡ / 2nd - 273.16㎡
Building scope: 1st - B3, 2F / 2nd - 1F
Parking: 47
Height: 1st - 15m below / 2nd - 6m below
Building to land ratio: 1st - 5.25% / 2nd - 0.8%
Floor area ratio: 1st - 5.23% / 2nd - 0.8%
Structure: RC, steel
Exterior finishing: exposed concrete, steel plate in the former tank, curtain wall, macheon stone, corrugated steel plate
Interior finishing: exposed concrete, steel plate in the former tank, GFRC panel, hot rolled steel sheet, vinyl paint
Landscape design: D’square
Civil engineering design: Jeongmin geotech
Structural engineer: SEN Engineering Group
Mechanical engineer: Yeongdong Engineering
Electrical engineer: Haewol Engineering
Construction: 1st - TCV Corporation / 2nd - SG SHINSUNG
Design period: Oct. 2014 - Aug. 2015
Construction period: 1st - Dec. 2015 - Sep. 2017 / 2nd - July 2016 - Aug. 2017
Client: KEB HANABANK Co., Ltd
Cost: 1st - 25.7 billion KRW / 2nd - 2.94 billion KRW

edited by Park Gyehyun | photographed by Namgoong Sun | materials provided by RoA_rchitects

tag.  Mapo , Oil Tank Culture Park , Public Architecture , RoA_rchitects
no.599 (2017.October) 
Tag your thoughts about the Article !
What Learning Architecture Means
Gageojiji (可居之地)
Three Bricks House
Aloysius Family Center
Spatial Weaving in the Architectural Renewal of a Historic Block: Qingguoxiang Block, Changzhou, China
KB Youth Step
K26 Diving Pool
The Possibility of Imperfection: NAMELESS Architecture
K&L House Pangyo
Brutalism Breathes Again: The Hayward Gallery, London
Spatial Resonance, Architectural Video
Being Scenery, or Containing Scenery
Plain House
ROMO V-House
Perceiving the Future: Hyundai Pavilion
Eiger Monch Jungfrau
Yangsan Eorinjip
Red Brick Building
Myeonmok Fire Station
Unjung Aspen
VT Haga Escape
Twin Houses
Louvre Abu Dhabi
Uhan Technos HQ office
W House
Maegok Library
Dongziguan Affordable Housing
Tung House
Botong House
best tag.
music, pasadena, prize, bridges, amorepacific, daejeon, indonesia, jakarta, seoul, office, han river, house, korea, lee sang-leem
{Voice Maker}SPACE
CNB Media space Lab. 52-20 Yeonhui-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Korea 03781    Tel. 82 2 396 3359 Fax. 82 2 396 7331 E-mail.