Seoul is now home to one of the largest vinyl collections in the world: Music Library + Understage, a public vinyl library containing 10,071 records, 3,298, books, and every edition of Rolling Stone published since 1967 — not to mention an impressive underground performance space. The building is the third in a series of projects from Korean credit card company HyundaiCard, following the creation of a Travel Library last year and a Design Library in 2013. After several years of scouring the globe, collectors got their hands on some noteworthy limited-edition LPs – including “God save the Queen” by the Sex Pistols and The Beatle’s 1966 album “Yesterday and Today” in its rare yet highly disputed “butcher cover.” There’s just one catch: the library’s treasures are meant for HyudaiCard holders only.
Designed by architect Choi Moon-gyu and Gensler architectural firm, the building itself is a sight to see. Enormous glass panels contain the library space within a relatively small footprint to allow for a large open-air space from which guests can enjoy the echoes of Understage, a built-in music venue that will be used to promote emerging and independent artists. Choi notes that the roof over this carefully considered outdoor retreat means visitors can even enjoy the sound of falling rain, a hymn in and of itself. Although libraries are typically reserved for silent study, six record players and a DJ on the two top floors which house the library’s extensive collection offer guests the chance to play their music of choice. “Through the Music Library and Understage, we wanted to provide Koreans with a valuable opportunity to experience a diverse range of masterpieces of music,” says the company; through an elegant and modern architectural space, they are providing an invaluable resource and artistic outlet that will foster musicians for years to come.