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Jeju Architecture TourInspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects

Jeju’s unique landscape, culture, and natural beauty has proven to be an inspiration for world-renowned architects. Notably, Itami Jun and Tadao Ando designed unique structures influenced by the island. While the styles of the architects are very different, they both take from the surrounding landscape in unique ways. The buildings themselves have attracted attention, particularly Bangju Church, which won the 2010 grand prize from the Korean Institute of Architects. In this article, we’ll look at five of the most famous buildings created by the two architects.

Podo Hotel and Bangju ChurchItami Jun
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects


Itami Jun is an award-winning Japan-born Korean architect. He was the brains behind several projects on Jeju including the two we’ll focus on today: Podo Hotel and Bangju Church. Each of these projects is in the Andeok-myeon area on the south-western side of the island. They are both deeply inspired by the nature and culture of Jeju. His Jeju projects came late in his career, in the years before his death in 2011.


Inspired by Jeju Hills and HousesPodo Hotel


Podo Hotel opened in 2001. The building borrows aspects from the design of traditional Jeju houses such as the overhanging roof and square shape. This feeling of being an old-style house is emphasized by the fermentation pots—traditionally used for kimchi or doenjang—that sit outside the front entrance, as well as the stone walls in the garden. The roof is another interesting point. From the ground level, it resembles the rolling hills of Jeju’s landscape, while from above, it makes the hotel look like a bunch of grapes. This is where the hotel got its name, as the Korean word for grape is “Podo.” While visitors cannot access the entire building without booking a stay, they can enter the lobby and the restaurant as well as see parts of the hotel from the outside. There is also a basement gallery that contains works related to Jeju such as its villages, Hallasan Mountain, and haenyeo divers.


Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
A Floating Church with Panoramic ViewsBangju Church


Bangju Church opened in 2009. The first thing you notice about the building is the mirrored roof that reflects light in harmony with the sky. The next thing you see is the water structure that surrounds the building, making it look like it is floating on water. This would seem to be a biblical reference to Noah’s Arc. The building isn’t the only thing of beauty in the area. The church’s location high up in the Andeok-myeon countryside means that on a clear day you get beautiful views out over the south side of the island all the way down to Sanbangsan Mountain on the coast. The church grounds contain a cafe so you can grab a rest after a hard day’s sightseeing.


Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Glass House, Genius Loci, and Bonte MuseumTadao Ando
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects


Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect who won the Pritzker Architecture prize—one of the top awards in the field—in 1995. He works primarily with concrete, and his buildings experiment with geometric angles and light as elements of architecture. He created his structures on Jeju between 2008 and 2012. Two of them are located on Phoenix Island, which is near to Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, while the other is in the Andeok-myeon area near to Itami Jun’s work.


Restaurant Flooded in LightPhoenix Island Glass House


The Glass House is a restaurant and observation deck on Phoenix Island on the far east of Jeju. It showcases many of the traits of Ando’s work. Much of the building is built with exposed concrete and glass. When inside, visitors are drenched in light that floods in through the windows. Additionally, the building has a sharp, angular shape that points inwardly towards Jeju. These angles are reflected in the features of the exterior landscape. The building is right on the coast, which means visitors get great views out over the sea on the east of Jeju. The restaurant inside the building is called Mint, and it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects


- Address: 46 Goseong-ri, Seongsan-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

- Contact: 064-731-7773

- Brunch 10 a.m. until 11 a.m.

- Lunch 12 a.m. until 3 p.m.

- Dinner 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. during the week 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturday

- Website: https://phoenixhnr.co.kr/en/static/jeju/activities/glass-house


Art Gallery with a Dramatic EntranceGenius Loci Yumin Art Gallery


Genius Loci is a garden and art gallery located on Phoenix Island just a short walk from Glass House. Much of the building is created from concrete, although this is balanced out by the Jeju black stone. The two materials come together to significant effect in the corridor on the way into the gallery—here, the walls around you get higher and higher as you move deeper underground. This causes the light to dim, reducing distractions, and allowing you to enter the art gallery in a contemplative frame of mind. The space currently houses the Yumin Art Nouveau Collection, which is a collection of glasswork from the Ecole de Nancy—a group of artists working in the French city of Nancy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.


Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Garden and Art GalleryBonte Museum


The Bonte Museum has many signatures of Ando’s style, such as the two L shaped concrete structures that make up the building and the decorative water feature that the light bounces from. The gardens that surround the building ensures that nature is in harmony with the man-made structure. The Bonte Museum itself contains galleries, a shop, and cafe. The galleries showcase a mixture of traditional Jeju art and more contemporary pieces. Meanwhile, in the garden, you can see sculptures by David Gerstein, Jaume Plensa, and Rotraut Klein-Moquay.


Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
Inspired by the Island: Five Buildings on Jeju Designed by Famous Architects
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