• SUBSCRIBE NOW
SEARCH

In search of a city's architectural identity

by Michele Koh Morollo on Apr 15, 2015 in Architecture
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on Sina WeiboShare on Tencent WeiboEmail this to someone
The late former president Roh Moo-hyun’s memorial is located in his hometown of Bongha Village, and is a triangular site with an area of 3,300 sq-m, crossed by two streams (Photo courtesy of Jong Oh Kim and Osamu Murai)

The late former president Roh Moo-hyun’s memorial is located in his hometown of Bongha Village, and is a triangular site with an area of 3,300 sq-m, crossed by two streams (Photo courtesy of Jong Oh Kim and Osamu Murai)

Seoul's first appointed city architect, Seung H-Sang, listens to the land and employs a 'philosophy of emptiness' to build public spaces that serve the people

Seung H-Sang, named Seoul's very first city architect last September, is considered to be one of the most influential Korean architects working today. Appointed to his groundbreaking new role by the city's mayor Park Won Soon, Seung's mission will be to re-establish the architectural identity of South Korea's capital. Heading a team of architects and urban planners, he oversees the bidding and planning for all public projects, and holds some sway over approval for the design of private projects.

It was while studying in Vienna that Seung first found his calling to be an architect. "When I found the works of Adolf Loos and learned that architecture has the power to revolutionise the age and society, I realised the fundamental function of the profession," he explains. Seung spent 15 years working under Kim Swoo Geun, the pioneer of contemporary Korean architecture, before setting out in 1989 to establish his own practice, Iroje Architects & Planners.

Seung H-Sang (Photo courtesy of Jong Oh Kim and Osamu Murai)

Seung H-Sang (Photo courtesy of Jong Oh Kim and Osamu Murai)

In April 1990, Seung and a coterie of young architect friends, including the renowned Min Hyun-Sik, formed the 4.3 Group to discuss new issues in architectural discourse, and to discover the essence of 'Koreaness' in their work. Each month, a member would present his work to the others for critiquing. "We discussed the presented work all night and found each other's architectural identity," Seung says. "Through participating in the 4.3 Group, I built up my architectural ethos — 'the beauty of poverty', which became the central idea behind my architectural works."

In 1992, the group, which had accomplished its goal of discovering each member's architectural identity, disbanded, but its members went on to shape the last two decades of architectural practice in Korea — and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Seoul School of Architecture. "I realised the necessity of a new architecture education system and founded a non-institutional school with fellow architects. This school's education system allowed students and teachers to study together, which led to a change in the traditional school system."

This is a preview of the "In search of a city’s architectural identity” article from the April 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

, , , , , ,

Recent Posts

  • “Fifty-two years of marathons”: Sir Terry Farrell is justifiably
proud of his Royal Town Planning Institute Gold Medal

    Postmodern reflections


    Sir Terry Farrell speaks to Perspective about Hong Kong’s accidental planning and his relationship with Nicholas Grimshaw

    Posted on Jan 16, 2018
    View
  • 2017 RCR BellLlocWinery_1

    Pritzker Prize predictions


    The 2018 edition of the Pritzker Prize marks the 40th anniversary of the esteemed architectural accolade

    Posted on Jan 15, 2018
    View
  • The W1 London (2)

    Luxury London living


    The W1 London, an eagerly anticipated boutique development on Marylebone High Street with a rich musical history, has just been unveiled.

    Posted on Jan 11, 2018
    View
  • The Bund Finance Centre is a 420,000sqm mixed-use waterfront development on the Bund of Shanghai Photo: Foster + Partners and Heatherwick Studio

    On the waterfront


    The Bund Finance Center, a huge mixed-use waterfront development, reconnects Shanghai’s old and new

    Posted on Jan 2, 2018
    View
Top