Architect David Adjaye and writer Taiye Selasi have developed a folly called the Gwangju River Reading Room.
As its name suggests, the pavilion is positioned on the embankment of the Gwangju River, connecting the street level above with the grassy flood planes used as a seasonal park. Adjaye was drawn to the project by the opportunity to collaborate with a like-minded novelist. Selasi, who is a a Rome-based author, shares Adjaye’s Ghanaian descent, London upbringing, and ivy league education. The structure draws reference from traditional Korean pavilions and houses a human rights library of books, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘half of a yellow sun’ to Emile Zola’s ‘germinal’.
Sitting on the banks of Gwangju River, the pavilion consists of two primary materials, concrete and timber. The concrete base takes into consideration the maximum level of the River and is designed so that it could be submerged in water at high tide. Steps are carved into the concrete to form seating areas and a viewing platforms on which to sit, read, contemplate and reflect.