A Matter of Water: Cheongshim Water Culture Center

To those living in the South Korean village of Songsan, proper water purification was almost nonexistent until the Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church decided to step in and create a proper water purification center called Cheongshim Water Culture Center.

The intent was not only to fix the water issue, but also to solve a hidden problem that has long been ignored in Songsan. By revealing  the progressive water resource problem, Sun Myung Moon's Unifcation Church created a building designed by UnSangDong Architects that is more than just a plain structure. Instead of a generic treatment center, faith and tranquility is on display amidst the drab and dry Korean lands.

In addition to water purification, the water treatment center was built for visitors to take in the beauty of this faith. Architects Jang Yoon Gyoo and Shin Chang Hoon combined their talents and created a contemporary and modern elegance that demands attention. Now stands a design worthy of oohs and aahs.

The funky exterior of this cylinder masterpiece is built with solid concrete to maintain temperatures, while the underground water plant runs around the clock. Above the water plant is something of visual value. A balance of natural and artificial lighting sets an aura of collected polished artistry within the space. Galleries and classrooms are fully lit and ready to capture all its visitors’ eyes. On top of this one of a kind structure a roof deck is carved out, and continues down into two other intricate sections. A lower deck with amphitheater-style seating continues a descent towards steeper steps that are fenced off to the front entry. This curiously clever design is derived from a classic metaphor of “the mother earth that bears water.”

Deep inside this curious shaped building, a 7,200 square foot space emphasizes this metaphor with the elusive bobbing and waving topographical water demonstration. Taking a stroll through the “fog box" is a glassed in garden, where mellow moss and other natural water loving plants flourish. The atrium creates a cohesion between the first and second levels, while your focus is directed to a massive aquarium filled with carp. 

The village of Songsan now has pure water for everyday uses. Daily tours at the center take visitors deep within the soil to learn the path of the 5,500 tons of sewage that comes in daily.

Photography by UnSangDong Architects