Busan, Korea 2005



PROGRAM: 6 cinemas (including one open air cinema) , conference rooms, event spaces, exhibition galleries, retail, restaurant, café, working loft, cinematheque, grand theater, visual media center
CLIENT: Busan International Film Festival
    SIZE: 414,615 sq ft
STATUS: competition

Stacked and expanded upwards into a 75 meter high planar tower, the Busan Cinema Complex takes a unique form. The multi-functional character of this cinema tower is invigorated by a “shuffled” program section where the lively spaces between the six cinemas have varying activities and functions.

Expanded and stretched like an accordion vertically, the building section is analogous to “cinema time” expanding an action that took minutes into a one-hour long film, or collapsing a hundred year span of time into an hour. The six cinemas are representative and comparable to collapsed time, and draw the surrounding plan elements inwards to their planar interiors.

The stacked cinema complex tower form allows for panoramic river and mountain views from the public spaces, including the rooftop and the cantilevered terraces adjacent to spaces throughout the section. As a consequence, the site is ordered as a true public plaza defined by a border of “cinema loft” residential condominiums, which provide economic and social support by their proximity.

Utilizing Korean ship building technology, the entire structure is a composite construction of Cor-Ten steel plates with concrete sandwich cores. At night, projected light illuminations expose the planes in space and the dynamic shade and shadow of this unique cinema tower.

A computerized HVAC system connected to geothermal wells and threaded via plastic pipes throughout the wall system removes heat from the southern planes or cold from the northern planes. This innovative and original approach to an internally distributed sustainable mechanical system is unprecedented in its original conception.


  • architect
    • – Steven Holl Architects
    • Steven Holl ( design architect )
    • Li Hu ( partner in charge )
    • JongSeo Lee ( project architect )
    • Cosimo Caggiula, Frank-Olivier Cottier, Nick Gelpi, Alessandro Orsini, Ernest Ng, Noah Yaffe (project team)
  • mechanical engineer
    • – Transsolar
  • structural engineer
    • – Robert Silman Associates