Gwangju Biennale – Gwangju, South Korea

2014 – Built

The Gwangju Biennale is Asia’s most important contemporary arts festival. The exhibition design required close collaboration with the curatorial team and over 100 participating artists and galleries in order to provide an effective space for the installation and display of artworks of varying scale and diverse media.

The layout of the exhibition was integrated within the biennale halls (over 5,000 sqm of space), and embeds the building’s existing columns within the structure of the temporary walls, thus achieving a bold tectonic presence that is further emphasised by the strong proportions of the apertures and thresholds into the gallery spaces. Through this the design creates a sense of permanence and solidity to the exhibition that belies its flexible and modular nature, thus responding to the Biennale’s curatorial theme Burning Down the House.

The smoke-motif graphics that permeate the exhibition were developed with the commissioned artists El Ultimo Grito. This marks an ambitious and significant departure from the ‘white cube’ convention for the display of modern and contemporary art, and required skilful refinement to meet the requirements of the artists whose work would be shown in this context. 

The exhibition furniture is again a flexible, modular system that can be readily adapted for the various exhibition spaces to provide a range of viewing environments. The design has been carefully developed so that the furniture is suitably distinct from the wall graphics, yet visually harmonious through the use of colour.

Image: Huma Mulji, Ode to a Tubelight and Memory of a Pink, Gwangju Biennale (2014), image © Stefan Altenburger

Project Team
Hannah Wilson

KL Co Ltd


Structural Engineer
Michael Hadi Associates

Artists (smoke-motif wall graphics)
El Ultimo Grito

Curatorial Team
Jessica Morgan
Emiliano Valdes
Fatos Ustek
Enna Bae
Teresa Kittler