That's the ticket: room with views for tired travelers

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That's the ticket: room with views for tired travelers

Chungmuro subway station, a transfer point between lines No. 3 and 4, has long been the center of an area known as "The Street of Films." At one time, Chungmuro was the hub for movie producers, actors and actresses and moviegoers alike. Think Hollywood, but without the crime and drug addicts. Many of the grandest movie theaters of the 1960s and 1970s were there, the Daehan, Myeongbo, Scala and Chungang.

The walls of the subway are adorned with pictures of famous film stars who won the Daejong Awards (for years, the major movie awards in Korea), evoking nostalgia for film lovers who pass by. Chungmuro station is already well known for its artificial, cavern-like, escalator passageway, built in 1986.

But now on the first basement floor of Chungmuro Station, a new architectural addition has been built. The name of this place is the "Intermedia Playground." The space that links the two stations, which is 7 meters wide and 70 meters long, has now become "Chungmuro's Image Center."

The once long and dull corridor was just a neglected space that people passed through between trains, but young architects used their talent to transform the gray concrete corner into an area for bright and pizzazzy theater and video rooms.

The men in charge of designing and renovating the 500-square-meter area to use as the Vitality theater, Media Oasis, Visual Lab, Club Vitality, Video viewing room, Vitality office and Display room are Cho Minsuk and James Slade. The two architects used visual and musical media to create an ingenious cultural activity space, where visitors can watch movies, videos and observe works of art.

These two men travel from New York to Seoul for their work, and opened their own firm, Cho Slade Architecture in 1998. In 1999, they received the Progressive Architecture Award; in 2000 they won the Young Architects Award given by the Architectural League of New York for their original and experimental form of cooperative work. Kim Gwang-su, from team BAHN Architects, who worked with the duo for this subway project, said, "We wanted to thrash a meaningless tunnel to awaken the fragments of the subconscious that are imbued inside the space."

The final materials used by these architects were glass and mirrors, items that allow transparency and reflection and which are a means to express the indirect interaction among the pedestrians. The Culture and Tourism Division of Seoul Metropolitan Government spent nearly 95 million won ($80,000) to create this resting place in the midst of the bustling city. The area is managed by the Korea Independent Film Association, which aims to provide a variety of public cultural services under the theme of "Media Is Vitality."

The Intermedia Playground officially opens on Aug. 30. Admission is 1,000 won for the video room and 3,000 for the theater, for nonmembers. A six-month membership costs 30,000 won. For more information, call 02-2263-0056.

by Chung Jae-suk

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