An international design competition for an apartment building is a rare case in Korea, marking Asia Seonsuchon Apartments its first. We’re curious about the vibe of the society around the time you designed the Apartments.
After the Gangnam development took place, the government went ahead with the Jamsil area as well, as it was expected to host the global athletic events. The people in Jamsil believed they were part of Gangnam. The international design competition was held in 1983 and considering the fact rhat architects usually designed private houses or public facilities, being able to design an apartment building was certainly an exceptional case in the past and even for today as well. It was just a couple of years after the critical 5.18 Gwangju Democratization Movement so the domestic politics was in an unstable phase. So as a means to show off, the government set the size of the site very large, with a condition to install a park within. It was a project with an extremely high demand of symbolism and monumentality.
What was the priority for its design?
I desired to bring to life the concept of a community within the complex where people would dwell closely with their neighbors. So I created a number of communal spaces in order to increase the chance of running into each other. Instead of aligning them straight, I arranged the three buildings into the shape of a ‘ㄷ’ and created 8 clusters. It was a giant complex that housed 1,400 apartments so I wanted to create little villages inside. In the beginning residents complained about the outer communal spaces being too big or uncomfortable but as time passed, they gradually understood the intentions of my ‘intended discomfort.’ It could be annoying to be walking through the snow or the rain or the pile of fallen leaves while you head to the public parking lot from your front door, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the weather and the environment while we live our daily lives. And I wanted the buildings to stand as a mountain, which explains the difference in the ceiling heights from the 9th floor to the 18th. Thanks to that, the parking lot doesn’t look too suffocating due to the good amount of sun that shines towards it all day.