Enigmatic Seoul: OMA's Urban Academic Tapestry

Hongik University
Hongik University Image Source: OMA


OMA, chosen to extend Hongik University's urban campus in Seoul, introduces an enigmatic fusion of building, masterplan, and landscapes. Set to interlace architecture with nature, the design weaves underground extensions, cascading courtyards, and interconnected clusters, aiming to revitalize the university's connection with its neighborhood.


Hongik University in Seoul, renowned for its art and design focus, is poised for an architectural renaissance. OMA, the Dutch architectural firm, embarks on an avant-garde project to extend this esteemed institution. The university, nestled on Wau mountain's slopes since the 1950s, now receives a visionary expansion, approved by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2023.

The expansion takes a bold step below ground level, reimagining rooftops as sheltered pathways adorned by verdant canopies. Cascading outdoor courtyards carve through the landscape, allowing natural light to weave into the campus, forging a dynamic connection between the buildings and open spaces.

At the heart of OMA's vision lie interconnected clusters of buildings, meticulously designed to harmonize with the university's academic fabric. Laboratories find their place proximal to the engineering faculty, while central buildings house amenities, creative spaces, and an avant-garde art center. Moreover, a multipurpose learning environment adorns the periphery, enriching the campus experience.

Chris van Duijn, Partner at OMA, accentuates the project's distinctiveness, elucidating its multifaceted nature—a blend of structure, masterplan, and landscape design. This architectural marvel seeks not to boast but rather invites exploration, aiming to rekindle the university's symbiotic relationship with its surroundings.

Ravi Kamisetti, Associate at OMA, paints a vivid picture of the design philosophy, emphasizing a deliberate 'contamination' of the campus with the neighborhood's vibrancy and creative fervor, fostering an environment conducive to free-flowing ideas and spontaneity.

Notably, OMA's design triumphed over distinguished contenders like Herzog & de Meuron, Renzo Piano, and David Chipperfield Architects, signifying its innovative approach and visionary resonance.


OMA's venture to redefine Hongik University's campus heralds an architectural narrative that seamlessly intertwines with nature, academia, and the pulse of the city. By envisioning spaces that harmonize with the surroundings and fostering an atmosphere of exploration, the project aims to elevate educational landscapes while honoring the vibrant essence of Seoul's Hongdae neighborhood.

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