Heunginjimun Gate and Dongdaemun Market in Seoul’s History

How much do we know about Dongdaemun? Thinking that we might have insufficient knowledge about this historical area, we wanted to learn about the nature of Dongdaemun first before we started the DDP project. The area was named as such because Dongdaemun (literally meaning “Great East Gate”), one of the eight gates of the fortress wall of Seoul, stands in the area. The gate’s official name is Heunginjimun, or “Gate of Rising Benevolence,” and is designated as Treasure No. 1 of Korea. This area was originally occupied by traditional Baeogae Market. In 1905, the market changed its name Dongdaemun Market to be launched as the first modern market in Korea, and grew into the two biggest markets in Seoul along with Namdaemun Market. During the 1990s, as large shopping malls gathered around Dongdaemun Market, the area emerged as a wholesale and retail hub, drawing popularity both from home and abroad. Today, Dongdaemun Market is the main street of Seoul’s fashion industry, where a good number of tourists visit day by day.


Dongdaemun life in the early 1900s (Left), Gyeongseong Stadium in 1926 (Right)


Today’s Heunginjimun Gate (commonly known as Dongdaemun)


Dongdaemun Stadium – Another Symbol of Dongdaemun – and DDP

Dongdaemun Stadium collectively refers to the soccer field, baseball stadium, and other sports facilities which were situated on the current location of Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) for more than 80 years from the 1920s to the 2000s. This sports complex greatly contributed to the dramatic growth of high school baseball and professional soccer league in Korea, and represented many glorious moments in modern history of the country. The stadium also included many stores selling sports goods, and Korean people used to think that they could find anything they needed in Dongdaemun Market. Indeed, the regional identity and symbolic value of Dongdaemun has been deeply rooted in people’s

Dongdaemun Stadium Turned into Dongdaemun History and Culture Park

In 2010, Dongdaemun Stadium Station of Seoul Metro changed its name to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station. It was the first effort to transform the Dongdaemun area into a place where Seoul citizens may appreciate the history of Dongdaemun Stadium and Dongdaemun Market and the time-honored culture around them. Although Dongdaemun Stadium vanished in history, the newly selected station name stands for the expectation that DDP built on the former location of the stadium successfully joins into the people’s life.

DDP, a Spaceship Landed on Dongdaemun History and Culture Park

The construction of DDP was sensational from its very beginning. Zaha Hadid, a world-famous Iraqi-British architect who is well-known for her unique world-view, won a design competition held by Seoul Metropolitan Government, and DDP was built to her design titled “Metonymic Landscape.” Hadid said that she created a seamless continuous space with curved lines, surfaces, and slopes in order to bring out the dynamic characteristics of Dongdaemun, and tried to embody future values and visions based on the historical, cultural, social, and economic background of the area. The visual impact of DDP delivers many pleasant surprises, and DDP was once called “a crash-landed spaceship” due to its overall shape.


Dongdaemun Stadium before demolition in 2008






ddp1121세기 건축은 20세기의 네모 블록 건축을 뛰어넘어
유동적이고 복잡하면서도 통합을 요구하는 삶을
담아내야 한다. 또한, 건축은 즐겁고 낙관적인 생각을
하도록 사람들을 자극하며, 영감을 주고 흥분시키고
감정적으로 흔들어 놓는 것이라 생각한다.

Zaha Hadid | Zaha Hadid Architects

© Simone Cecchetti

DDP, a New Place for Citizens

As the Dongdaemun area was closely associated with ordinary people’s life in the long history of the city, the principal motto for DDP operating strategy was “to be creative with citizens, and to be enjoyable with citizens.” In this regard, three goals were established to make DDP engage with citizens in a more meaningful way: Five major spaces in DDP will be open to the public 24 hours a day; 60 spots around DDP will be developed as tourist attractions; and the operation of DDP will maintain its financial independence.

1. Art Hall, a space that shows the world a new beginning

2. Museum, a learning center that makes the world interesting

3. Design Shop, a space that promotes a productive and pleasant life

4. Eoullim Square, a place where design and creative culture are incorporated with everyday urban life

5. Park, where history and design coexist


Brand designs by sections in DDP


New Identity for DDP in Its New Chapter

Both the area and the structure of DDP aim to be a place for the citizens. However, ironically, the visual form of the building is unprecedentedly unique, and it is sometimes misinterpreted as an unfriendly design to the citizens. So a new identity was essential to combine the core value of the DDP and its architectural style. Under the concept of “continuous connecting,” the creation of DDP identity started to connect past and present, history and future, space and human, tradition and innovation, knowledge and wisdom, and internal and external aspects. We believed a new brand identity should be easily noticeable and reminiscent of its architectural features, and tried many sketches to find out the most proper form of basic design by rotating the 3D construction data in various angles and testing relative lines. Also, as our main objective was to invent a flexible design, just like the structure of DDP, whose shape is not fixed but can be variable from different viewpoints, we studied about diverse motions as well. Through many tests and adaptation trials, a brand-new identity for DDP was finally born to the world.











    Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul Design Foundation


    Brand Strategy - sampartners & CDR
    Verbal & Visual Identity - sampartners & CDR
    Space Programming - sampartners & CDR
    Signage & Environment Design - 이음파트너스
    Photographer - 정주하 (Photo from DDP official website)






    Concept & Design Development - Zaha Hadid Architects
    Construction - 삼성물산 & 삼우종합건축사사무소





  • TEAM of ©sampartners

    Executive Director - 이창호
    Creative Director - 강주현 / Designer - 양한아, 류기백
    Planner - 배성규 / Project management - 홍상현


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