Kolektif Stüdyo

Korean War Memorial and Visitor Center

Korean War Memorial and Visitor Center Architectural Design Competition









"SÜKUN(Calmness) * SPACE

"It's night in the wild mountains The stars are still our stars The moon is still ours Come, let's turn our faces towards the homeland Mehmet, let's turn our faces towards the homeland."


*Sükun (Calmness) is a philosophical term that signifies the state of being stationary or motionless. It can also be defined as an object being in the same place at two different times.


As Turgut Uyar said, the stars are still our stars in the wild mountains, the moon is still ours. Regardless of different geographies, languages, religions, races, or cultures, humans are still humans. This might be the reason why 69 years ago, when North Korea invaded South Korea, many of our soldiers volunteered to join the Tugay to help South Korea. Until the ceasefire in 1953, a total of 10 brigades fought in foreign lands for people they had never met before. They participated in 14 significant battles, achieving crucial successes in four of them that could be considered turning points in the Korean War. They were known by nicknames like "North Star," "Number One," and "Bravest of the Brave." They opened the Ankara School for children left orphaned by the war, providing support and becoming a source of hope. Nevertheless, war is still war, death is still death.

Every war is an act of destruction and annihilation. Such a powerful and destructive action doesn't only impact the physical world's formations; it mostly interferes with and even erases individuals' histories and memories. A person is eradicated with all their history and memories, and when there's nothing left to be destroyed, 'Sükûn' (Calmness) begins. Even though every person who died in Korea and was martyred tried to be erased from our memories, a brand-new memory has been formed within our collective memories due to the shift it caused. We can say that the state of sükun is the state of tranquility and stillness desired after the destructive movement of war. It's the state of peace and tranquility longed for after all that destruction. Even though our martyrs bid farewell to the physical world, they left unforgettable legacies in our personal and collective memories.

In this context, while approaching the project, it aims to generate comprehensive architectural solutions that focus on experiential aspects of commemoration rather than imposing a traditional monument concept. It aligns more with the concept of counter-monumentality, aiming to create architectural solutions that allow the concept of remembrance to be experienced from various angles, rather than merely conveying an idea.

Form and Function

Formally, the square, with all its sides equal, evokes a sense of security in humans due to its vertical and horizontal lines, representing constancy. The square doesn't direct the eye anywhere, thus it doesn't evoke a sense of movement. It's fixed and unchanging. Additionally, the square form, symbolizing social equality, even though representing opposing sides in war, is an image of every individual sharing common humane values. The formal solution for the conceptual approach of "Sükun" (Calmness) space has been found in the square form.

The walls that greet us at the entrance function as mnemonic interfaces of the experiences of two different communities during the war. These two different walls represent two different cultures and eventually intersect and merge into each other. The corten-covered wall on the south side represents Turkey and our soldiers, while the black natural stone-covered wall on the north side represents Korea and the Korean people. These two drastically different communities have even found a way to create collective memory in the face of a destructive event like war. The walls accompany us on both sides until the memorial area, where they lead us in front of a memorial wall with the names of every martyr we lost in Korea. The "Sükun Duvar" (Calmness Wall) is a 5-meter-high and 23-meter-long structure that only has the names of the martyrs inscribed on it. In appearance, it aims to surprise visitors with the multitude of names of the fallen and to perpetuate the names of the martyrs with infinity.

The square form of the walls surrounding the memorial area defines a semi-open space without a ceiling, and in this way, it is the spatial projection of the concept of "Sükun" (Calmness) space. Every person who departed from the physical world due to war has left behind memories of their disappearance to other people or communities. This mass disappearance has caused a collective memory shift. The axis shift in the square form of the memorial area represents the impact of those who lost their lives in our societies.

This axis shift and the intersections created by the memorial area allow for the formation of passages opening outwards. The passage opening to the north leads to the area where building groups are designed in a street layout, while the passage opening to the south leads to the wooded area with dense vegetation, where experiential paths and contemplation islands are planned. The volumetric forms of the building groups emerged as a result of designing them in harmony with the natural vegetation without cutting down a single tree. The facades of the building groups have vertical movements that appear irregular and spontaneous, allowing controlled sunlight to enter. The vertical movement on the facade is in harmony with the vertical movements of the trees in the wooded area, conveying the building's desire to blend into nature.

Narrative Approach

Starting from the main entrance, visitors are accompanied by walls on both sides, leading them first to the memorial area surrounded by stone pools. Afterward, they face the memorial wall. This area is also the place where ceremonies will take place. Visitors experiencing remembrance, commemoration, and empathy then proceed through the passage on the north side of the area, reaching the street where the building clusters are situated. Right across from the passage are the entrances to the café and administrative buildings, and further down the street, entrances to the museum, temporary exhibition area, and library are located. The café, the hall of honor inside the administrative building, and the library are designed to have facades facing the wooded area on the north side, receiving as much natural light as possible. The permanent museum and temporary exhibition areas are designed to require less direct light. The permanent museum is designed to meet the needs of the existing museum located within the military area. After visiting the permanent museum, visitors enter the experiential path, embarking on a journey through the wooded area. The path in the wooded area is designed to enable visitors to experience the act of commemoration. Experience spaces are constructed, transforming visitors from passive observers into the subjects of the commemorative space. The act of commemoration becomes a journey of experience. Along this journey, visitors aren't imposed with a specific thought; instead, contemplation islands are designed to allow visitors to form their own thoughts. These contemplation islands come after each experience space. They are open spaces surrounded by trees where visitors can rest. Furthermore, throughout the entire experience path within the wooded area, transparent columns representing our soldiers who disappeared in Korea or whose traces couldn't be found are placed. They accompany the visitor along the path, indicating that they haven't truly disappeared; each transparent column guides us as an unknown soldier, illuminating our path with its light.

Structural Report

The buildings of the Korean War Memorial and Ceremony Area are made of reinforced concrete. The buildings are planned as single-story structures. The café and administration buildings, as well as the library and museum, share column axes and are connected through expansion joints where the differently volumetric masses are separated. Columns are generally concealed within the walls to ensure harmony with the architectural design. The circulation within the museum is integrated with its structural system. An inner courtyard is created at the intersection of the café and administration, establishing an indoor-outdoor relationship through glass façades.

Landscape Report

General Approach Lüleburgaz is located on the Ergene Plain, characterized by its gentle slope and fertile agricultural lands. The project site is situated in a rural area outside the city center. This land, containing numerous trees and surrounded by Lüleburgaz Stream on the upper side and the military's trees on the sides, offers a retreat from urban development and noise. During the project formation phase, it was decided not to alter the lower levels of the land due to infrastructure constraints. The aim was to create spaces and pathways in harmony with nature, while preserving existing trees. Plant Approach In the context of plant design, plants suitable for the climate of the project area were selected as a priority. The metaphorical meanings of the chosen plants were also considered. The plant landscape strategy is distributed throughout the experiential areas and contemplation islands, providing diversity based on their meanings. In contemplation islands, the RED POPPY, symbolizing Remembrance Day, and the BLUE IRIS FLOWER, symbolizing hope and belief, are used. Along the pathway, plants such as Gazania rigens, Platanthera chlorantha, Veronica turrilliana, Orchis papilionacea, Orchis tridentata, Orchis purpurea, Ophrys oestrifera subspoestrifera, Onosma propontica, Lilium martagon, Fritillaria stribrnyi, Euphorbia amygdoloides var. robbiae, Dactylorhiza saccifera, Cyclamen coum var. coum, Cephalanthera damasnium, Cephalanthera longifolia were chosen to create visual appeal. In the parking area, tree planting locations were determined based on the orientation of the parking spaces to provide shading and enhance the parking layout. Water Water is reflective, fluid, and unites with what it reflects. It symbolizes purity, clarity, and hope. In the project, the water element is used in the landscape of the experiential path under the bases of the 10 battalions representing the Remembrance Day. The reflections of these 10 bases are formed on the water's surface. Metaphorically, the rippled and translucent reflection there forms the families, loved ones, and us – those indirectly affected by the 10 battalions heading to war. It tells the story that not only those who directly participated in the war were affected, but also those around them. Stone Mountains erode over time due to natural phenomena like wind and rain, causing rocks to detach. These rocks carried by rivers or the sea, when further eroded, break into smaller pieces, forming gravel stones. The gravel stones used in the stone pools of the memorial area are important both as local materials and for symbolizing our fallen soldiers.

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