Architects: BCHO Architects
Location: Seoul, Republic of Korea
Project team: Kang Woo-hyun, Erik Horn, Park Gi-hyun, Pai Yong-eun, Nicholas Locke, Kwon Sung-Hwa, Seo Ji-young, Park Joo- hyun, Eric Druse
Project area: 4,403 sqm
Project year: 2006 – 2010
Photographs: Kyungsub Shin, Wooseop Hwang
I was approached to construct a new building at the site of the old Hankook Ilbo building originally designed by the renowned Korean architect Kim Swoo-geun in 1968. The area had recently been demolished as part of an urban renewal development project. The site is well-known to the public due to the close proximity to Gyeongbok Palace and Insa-dong , both landmarks of Seoul. Given this historical context, I personally believe it is inappropriate to destroy older sophisticated buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s and replace them. However, given the inevitable situation involving the government’s urban redevelopment project, I had no choice but to accept the situation, then decided to design in consideration of the historical and urban context of the site.
The specific architectural shape was made in response to the distinctive geographical features. The site consists of several acute angles, and within its figure, inducing interactions between horizontal and vertical dynamics, such as water flowing in various directions. This recalls a birch tree trunk that weathered severe hardships over time.
Directly south of the building an area with historical commercial alleyways, one famous called Pimatgol. Although the area has largely disappeared with the urban renewal project, it is still possible to connect with some of the remaining traces. The connection made through the site is directed toward Dongsipjagak, an ancient watch tower at the southeast corner of Gyeongbok Palace. This area connects to Samcheongdong, an area which remains vibrant, evoking both the historical tradition and urban context.