Seoul City Hall, Seoul South Korea

Yoo Kerl of iArc designed the new City Hall for Seoul, Korea, located in downtown Taepyeongno Jung-gu. The building rises like a wave suspended above the Seoul Plaza, distorting to accommodate the historic old City Hall which has been converted to the Seoul Metropolitan Library. The old City Hall was built in 1926 under Japanese rule and holds a special place in this project.

Kerl used local architectural traditions to establish the design. The 13 story building is almost entirely covered with glazing. The curves and distortions actually are inspired by the Korean Hanok traditional house, which carefully considers its position relative to its surroundings. In keeping with tradition the front opens to a plaza while looming sky-rises are kept in back. The side of the building is very interesting, with angled "leaves" clashing against curvaceous bubbles in this transition from back to front.

It is hard to tell how the old social rules embodied in the Hanok are treated in this governmental landmark. The project itself reportedly became a boondoggle for most everyone involved, with years of disputes, red tape and bad press. It is a wonder that the project got completed at all, in August 2012.

The "art fence" that was erected to conceal construction of the building seems more appreciated by the media. Horizontal silver curves stack on top of each other. But for all the bitterness that Koreans seem to feel for this building, for some reason, it looks to me like something to be proud of.

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Art Fence during construction:

1 comment:

Yule said...

Excellent post on Seoul City Hall history. Thanks for it.

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