24 March 2008

cityplan #3: new city hall

if it's "3 strikes and you're out," what happens after five?

i've been a bad blogger lately. sorry.

last month's tragic arson of sungnyemun focused considerable criticism at seoul's cultural heritage administration for its lax security of the nation's #1 national treasure. but the preservation group has also been dogged for its role in delaying construction of a new city hall for seoul.

here she is. all that wave action makes me feel a little sorry for the old building in the middle.

...and the inside.

the cha played hardball and rejected several designs before approving an october 2007 master plan. that version, however, was ill-received by the public for being architecturally incongruous with nearby deoksu palace. in response, the seoul metropolitan government invited four renowned korean architects to "remodel" the design. with the cha's reputation in tatters, one week after sungnyemun was destroyed the master plan for seoul's new city hall was approved. construction on the 13-floor, 941,000 square meter complex should begin any day now with completion set for 2011.

earlier designs were inspired by feminine curves (!) or the taeguk (the yinyang symbol on korea's flag), but the korea herald says that the new design will "feature a blend of traditional design such as the curves and shades of traditional [korean roof] eaves." hmmm. this design is many things, but "traditional" it ain't. anyhow, the building's curved design will also be incorporated into the grounds via a dozen "waves" on the city hall lawn. reportedly 30% of the new building will be set aside for "cultural space," which includes a "sky lounge." (why does every new building in seoul have a "sky lounge"? ...what is a "sky lounge"?)

4 strikes (click for larger).

the current city hall is itself controversial. built of gray faux-stone in 1926 during the japanese occupation, it has been seen by some as a painful reminder of foreign imperialism, prompting calls for its demolition. unlike the former presidential house, city hall escaped the wrecking ball. but the public's mixed feelings of the place seems to have inspired its planned annex. the new building looks poised to pummel the original structure tsunami-style. one expat blogger remarked that it was as if the korean pop-culture wave (한류) was swallowing up japan.

the current city hall will be converted into a public library and information center.

here's an earlier post i made about an earlier city hall redesign.

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