When the Brands Take Over

        Much has been written about the idea of iconic architecture or signature buildings by internationally recognized architects. They are, and rightly so, often criticized for their lack of integration in the urban context as well as non-representation of the culture in which they are implanted.

        Fashion brands have been using this technique for roughly the past 20 years in order to use architecture as branding material. What good can associating luxury brands and signature buildings bring to today’s architecture? Apart from worldwide fame and recognition through association, it has brought about innovation in construction as well as in the way the users experience buildings. Continue reading

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Butterfly House – Donner Sorcinelli Architecture

The Italian studio Donner Sorcinelli Architecture had the chance to design a house in Gapyeong, near Seoul. Not only is it interesting to see that an international firm was hired to design a house in the suburbs of Seoul, but to see their take on Korean architecture is quite insightful too; especially the way they link Nature and Architecture. The information they sent Koreanarchitecture.com concerning the project is after the break.

Also, to know more about the firm and their different projects, please visit:


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Architecture photography from Korea

Mark De Fraeye, from http://www.mdefraeye.be/, is a photograph with a strong interest in Korean traditional architecture as well as Korea’s culture and lifestyle. Some of his work will soon be on display in Stuttgart, Germany.
His photographs are beautiful and he shows a unique point of view on his environment. If you are in the area, go take a look at his exhibition! A link to his wordpress website can also be found in the links section on the right.

The information related to the exhibition are after the cut!

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Sustainability in Korean Architecture

Julianna Davies, from mbaonline (http://www.mbaonline.com/), recently contacted Koreanarchitecture.com with the desire to contribute and write an article for our site. Her website contains many resources guiding readers to what MBA programs are teaching in terms of financial, social and environmental sustainability. Here, she discusses  sustainability in South Korean architecture under a different light than the one of an architect. We thank her greatly for her much valued opinions and perspective, since they are great additions to Koreanarchitecture.com. We hope to work again with her in the near future.

Sustainability in Korean Architecture

“Green construction”, and the green economy in general, has gained tremendous traction amongst many industries around the world, all the while catching the eye of many investors. Even the business world  has been overlooking the high costs and seeing investments instead. While some businesses are pushing schools to teach sustainability in their masters of business administration and undergraduate programs, others are taking it upon themselves to implement sustainable practices. That said, some countries and industries have admittedly embraced the movement with more gusto than others.
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Byoung-soo Cho wraps concrete / Hanil Visitors Center and Guest House

ⒸYongkwan Kim

MARK #27 

Text Jin-young Lim

Photos Yong-kwan Kim

The Hanil Cement plant in the town of Danyang, Korea, towers in front of a mountain ridge that has been descending 30 cm each year as raw material has been dug out of its base. Hanil Cement commissioned architect Byoung-soo Cho to design the Hanil Visitors Center and Guest House, a two-winged building opposite the plant, to showcase the vista so symbolic of the owner’s proud entrepreneurship. Continue reading

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Seoulutions for Dutch Cities, by Bart Reuser of NEXT Architects

Dutch architect Bart Reuser of Next Architects spent a year or so in Korea. Now back home in Holland, he is putting together ‘Seoulutions for Dutch Cities’, a book based on his urban and architectural research on Hongdae. Recently I had a pleasure of reading the draft of the first part of the book; I also discussed with him in e-mails.

The basic premise of the book is that the chaotic urban landscape of Korea that constantly erases and recreates itself, as best represented by Hongdae, is essentially an expression of living city struggling to stay responsive to socio-economical demands such as changes in density, program and land-use. This ‘dearest wish of the living thing for its own survival’, as artist Kim, Beom says, is what Bart believes Dutch cities also face but fail to deliver in physical reality due to social and legal systems designed to preserve history, not to stimulate urban life. Hence the title ‘Seoulutions’: can lessons from Seoul be used as solutions for the Dutch cities?

The book follows in detail how buildings in Hongdae go through many changes in time. Vertical and horizontal additions, reprogramming, divisions, architectural face-lifting, installation of various architectural elements such as external staircases are the key words. Most of them started as detached houses and then evolve into bigger and more complex structures. The consequence is what we may describe as living urban creatures that breathe and transform over time, defying static definitions. The fact that fascinates Bart is that over a course of time, what started as an illegal building activity can somehow become socially acceptable and even legal. That is the idea of ‘flexibility’ that he sees in Korea. A unique viewpoint on urban metamorphosis.

We have seen researches like this before; the classic ‘Architecture without Architects’ and ‘Made in Tokyo’ to name a few. But how does an analysis become a solution? How can we fomulate a realistic, applicable strategy out of the lessons from spontaneous urban changes that basically take place with almost no respect for the existing social and legal guidelines? And is the visual chaos like Hongdae an only answer for a city that chooses to grow and change?

Such are the questions the book raises in the chapters titled ‘Dynamic Urbanism’ and ‘The Functioning City’. Bart proposes that the Dutch legislation be adapted on the realities of cities’ need to change; “Toward a dynamic urbanism!”, as he summarizes. In the second part of the book which he is working on at this moment, he plans to provide more details of what the actual contents of a dynamic urbanism could be in the Dutch context. He also plans to put together an exhibition with the same topic in the future.

Even with the second part yet to come, the first part of ‘Seoulutions’ alone is inspiring enough; it offers a valuable insight on the gap between the contemporary cities’ dire need to change and the inflexible system that governs them.


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The Naked Truth / Weekend Houses Hochon-ri, Hoon Moon

Hoon Moon Weekend Houses Hochon-ri / Gangwon-do / Korea

‘Hoon Moon, a self-proclaimed lover of women’s derrières and fishnet stockings, wants visitors to the Rock It Suda holiday house to ‘tremble with the energy of emotion’.

Text Jin-young Lim

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Modification at Koreanarchitecture.com!

Dear Koreanarchitecture.com readers,

Today, a slight modification was done to the website: the contributors page is gone! In an effort to make this site more opened to discussion and article posting, we have decided to get rid of the “contributor” status. We felt that it led to a latent hierarchy which could deter potential writers from expressing their point of view on our website. We now hope that within the next few months, a wide array of people from different backgrounds will come and express their thoughts on Korean architecture.

The texts are not grouped by author’s name anymore, but by categories of subject. This explains why the “contributors” button at the top of the page has been changed to a “categories” button. That being said, if you are interested in reading the article of a specific author, you can still do so by clicking on his/her name on the right side of the page.

On this note, let’s start posting and sharing information on Korean architecture!

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The Korean Gallery at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, Sweden

Architect Doojin Hwang+DJHA designed the Korean Gallery at the Museum of far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, Sweden. With the working theme ‘Uniquely Intimate’, the design responded to both Korean and Swedish cultural traditions.
The general layout of the Korean Gallery was inspired by the Yun Tak Residence in Haenam, Korea. Juxtaposition, penetration and transition were the key concepts in creating a nonlinear, asymmetrical space, analogous in spatial experience to traditional Korean villas and gardens. DJHA decided to preserve the existing exposed wooden beams, respecting the museum building’s historical monument status, and sought to create an ideal environment for enjoying the delicate and understated Korean artworks and artifacts by introducing filtered and reflected light coming from three windows covered with Korean mulberry paper and the ceiling above the beams. DJHA also placed a few built-in benches on which visitors can sit and look at the objects at the eye level of floor sitting.

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Global vs Local: the Case of Contemporary Architecture in Twenty-First Century Korea

       As I was concluding my last article (cf.: Architecture as the Built Form of Colonial Ambitions), I hinted at the Korean national architectural identity currently being molded by today’s work from Korean architects. Parallel to that development, there is also a reality more and more present in Korea that is hard to look over: the influx of international architects.

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