The Busan Cinema Center, which features a huge roof shaped in a wavelike pattern, opened Thursday in Busan. It is propped up by a single pillar built to resemble a pair of ice-cream cones. The center will be the main venue of the annual Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), previously known as the Pusan International Film Festival.
With the completion of the center, the southern port city wants to be recognized not only as a regional cinematic hub but also as the home of key architectural landmarks.
The building was designed by Austrian architectural firm Coop Himmelblau, which was established in 1968 by architects Wolf D. Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky and Michael Holzer. The firm is famous for its irregularly shaped, deconstructive style of architecture. Their works include the BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany, and the Groningen Museum in the Netherlands. The Busan Cinema Center is the firm's first Asian project.
Built on a 30,217-sq.m plot of land, the Busan Cinema Center houses three main buildings and an outdoor plaza including a theater/performing arts center called "Cinemountain" and "BIFF Hill," which contains the offices of the film festival's organizing committee.
The roof of the center is the largest in the world. Weighing 3,500 tons, it is 1.5 times the size of a soccer field. Propping up the huge roof is a small pillar that resembles two ice-cream cones connected together. Under the roof are 42,600 LED bulbs that light up in a kaleidoscope of colors at night. It took three years to complete the center at a cost of W167.8 billion (US$1=W1,175).
Prix, CEO of Coop Himmelblau, who visited Busan to attend the opening ceremony, said his team designed the building so that it seems to change its appearance and convey a different feeling depending on the perspective from which it is viewed. This, he said, mimics the way in which movies lend themselves to different interpretations depending on how -- or by whom -- they are viewed.
It was also built to reflect the vibrancy of Busan, he said, adding that the structure ranks at the pinnacle of architectural engineering as it features a wide range of curving angles.
Critics have noted that it also bears more than a passing resemblance to the BMW headquarters that the firm built.
President Lee Myung-bak, Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik and movie industry officials were among the 700 guests who attended the building's opening ceremony.
"We aim to become the center of the Asian movie industry and develop BIFF into one of the world's top three movie festivals as we usher in a new era marked by the Busan Cinema Center," said Hur.