Today, the Korean Peninsula provides a striking example of a post-war polarization: two opposite political and economical systems, constantly presented in contrast/conflict by the global media, that still maintain an intricate, complicated relationship. Architecture’s role in this polarization was instrumental. North Korea sought to represent the aspirations of a new communist nation within a context devastated after the war — a tabula-rasa from which adaptations of modernism could appear. In South Korea, fast economic growth bred a form of modernization that represented the ideals of a globalized world.
These distinct absorptions of modernity, and the relation between the two neighboring nations, are represented in Korea’s Pavilion in an exhibition called Crow’s Eye View, winner of the Gold Lion at the Venice Biennale 2014. The dense exhibition, commissioned and curated by Minsuk Cho together with Hyungmin Pai and Changmo Ahn, used every corner of the pavilion to represent this subject. The curators invited a multidisciplinary group of architects, urbanists, poets, writers, artists, photographers, film-makers, curators and collectors to demonstrate (to best of their availability, since official cooperation with North Korean institutions proved impossible) the architectural intersections and divisions between North and South Korea.
Recognized by the judges as “research in action,” Crow’s Eye View provided an invaluable addition to a discourse which has been predominantly carried by Western-centric narratives. And it is precisely this that, according to rumors, made it Koolhaas’ favorite pavilion.
The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 has announced a partnership with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul that has expanded the international Young Architects Program (YAP) to South Korea. Just as YAP presents opportunities for emerging architects to design and build temporary installations in New York, Chile, Rome and Istanbul, YAP Korea will offer the MMCA’s outdoor Museum Plaza as the summer installation site.
Already, a winner has been chosen from 26 submissions to serve as the inaugural YAP Korea installation. With completion planned for July 8, winning team Moon Ji Bang (Threshold) is amidst the final preparations for mystical, mythology-inspired installation that will transcend visitors from the daily hustle into a cloud-like landscape of air balloon structures.
The Mapo Oil Depot is a valuable industrial legacy of Seoul but has been forgotten for quite some time since its original purpose was terminated. In an era of economic growth in Korea, a fresh approach is needed regarding this industrial legacy, which, ironically can survive in having been forgotten.
Deviating from conventional attitude, demolishing the old city and constructing the new, it is time to try to keep the memory and history of this old structure and to revive its uniqueness. As an attempt to get back not only the old structure but also the territory having been closed for decades to the people of Seoul, this project will be a meaningful beginning. The competition expects proposals that recover the existing facilities and territory, not only grant a series of programs onto the old structure. In this sense, the organization hopes that the International Competition for Culture Depot Park by Rehabilitating Mapo Oil Depot can show the direction to where architecture in Seoul should go.
The jury includes Toyo Ito, and the winning entry will be awarded with a design contract. Entries can be submitted until August 12. For more information please go to the competition’s official website.
BPA (Busan Port Authority) has just announced an international competition for the Waterfront Park Master Plan of the Busan North Port, South Korea. The deadline for registration is June 10. To download all the necessary requirements to participate in the competition, please go to the official website.
Vernacular Versatility, recently awarded first place in the 2014 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, seeks to adapt traditional Korean architecture into a contemporary mixed-use high-rise. The vernacular design of the Hanok, the “antonym of a western house” and epitome of the Korean style, has disappeared from every town. Extensive urban development in the 1970s led to a boom in modern apartment dwellings and, consequently, a loss of established Korean vernacular architecture. Yong Ju Lee’s proposal aims to reimagine the Hanok in one of the country’s busiest districts, drawing people’s attention to and stimulating their interest in traditional architecture with the intention that “it will eventually be absorbed into people’s everyday lives”
Architects: Lee Eunseok + K.O.M.A.
Location: Gwacheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Area: 497 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of Lee Eunseok + K.O.M.A.