The shocking structure of South Korean Kim Swoo-Geun

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Kim Swoo Geun was a distinguished South Korean architect, educator, writer and patron of artists. His creations are someplace between brutalist and MidCentury, whereas drawing on conventional Korean aesthetics and strategies. 

Korean architect Kim Swoo Geun (1931-1986), born in Cheongjin, North Korea, is acknowledged as one of the crucial essential figures of Twentieth century Korea, within the cultivation of artwork, crafts, structure, music, efficiency artwork, and schooling. The architect’s dedication to humanitarian beliefs impressed by historically Korean kinds, units his work and actions aside from his counterparts within the West in addition to within the East. Kim’s visionary method was primarily based on his idea of controlling scale and defining the weather of the ‘final house’, whereby the architect’s objective was to enhance high quality within the lifetime of the folks. On account of his dynamic affect throughout various cultural actions, Kim isn’t solely thought to be one of the crucial essential leaders in Korean structure, but additionally, equally as one of the crucial essential advocates of Korean tradition and patron of the humanities.

Together with architect Kim Joong Up, he’s acknowledged as a major contributor within the historical past of Korean structure. Together with his assist for various artwork genres of Korean tradition, he was known as Lorenzo de Medici of Seoul by TIME in 1977. After his commencement from the college in 1950, Kim entered Seoul Nationwide College, majoring in structure. In 1952, throughout the Korean Conflict, he withdrew from the college and went overseas to Japan the place he studied trendy structure at Tokyo Nationwide College of Nice Arts and Music. Throughout his examine at this faculty, he interned at Hirada Matsuda’s architectural agency. In 1960 he acquired a grasp’s diploma in structure from Tokyo College the place he completed his doctoral course as effectively. In 1959, he gained the competitors for the Nationwide Meeting Constructing of South Korea, however his proposal was not realized as a result of political state of affairs at the moment. In 1960, he returned to his nation along with his Japanese spouse Michiko Yajima. In 1961 he based his architectural agency Kim Swoo Geun Planning and Design, the predecessor of the present SPACE group. On the identical time, he additionally started to show on the structure division of Hongik College.


Kim Swoo Geun’s Profession

Kim’s achievements in design exceeded 200 works throughout his quick lifetime spanning over many political regimes, together with the Freedom Heart, Saewoon Mega Advanced, House Group of Korea constructing, Masan Yangdeok Catholic Church, Kyung Dong Church, and the Olympic Foremost Stadium. In 1966, Kim printed ‘House‘, the one month-to-month journal for main analysis and criticism of the humanities on the time, which was devoted to structure, surroundings, and aesthetic points, that Kim meant as a document of the current and a foundation for the longer term. Kim’s headquarters in Seoul, the House Group of Korea, was the well-spring of cultural exercise and a mecca for architects, modern artists, curators, musicians, efficiency artists, craftsmen, writers, and educators inside Korea and from overseas.

Kim Swoo Geun’s father was a profitable businessman in transport and mining. While Kim’s early childhood was spent in Northern Korea, his formal schooling was primarily based in Seoul. Through the Korean Conflict (1950-1953), Kim, then a scholar on the School of Engineering at Seoul Nationwide College, fled to Japan with a purpose to pursue his research in structure. In 1958, he graduated from Tokyo College of the Arts with a B.A. in Structure, quickly adopted by a M.A. in Structure from the College of Tokyo in 1960.

In 1960, Kim gained first prize within the nationwide competitors for the Korean Nationwide Meeting Constructing. Kim returned to Korea and established his personal architectural apply in Seoul, House Group of Korea. The architect’s return coincided with the newly industrializing nation and the beginnings of recent Korean structure. When authorities officers insisted on modifying Kim’s design, he boldly refused and promptly dropped the mission. Seoul’s authorities officers beneath the newly instated president Pak Chung Hee, have been impressed by Kim’s disciplined adherence to his rules. Kim grew to become a rising star within the new navy Pak regime, and was showered with giant scale commissions, such because the Hill Prime Bar Pavilion (1961), Freedom Heart (1963), SaeWoon Advanced (1963), Korea College Hospital (1963), and Korea Instances Constructing (1965). These initiatives propelled Kim into a number one function in Korea’s trendy architectural improvement, and for the following three a long time, Kim additionally performed an important function in Korea’s cultural revitalization and metamorphosis. Sensing the constraints within the adoption of purely Western fashions on the one hand and excessive nationalism or patriotism on the opposite, Kim developed his authentic idea of structure that synthesized the altering situations of post-war Korea with the extensively forgotten Korean cultural historical past and primordial spirit.


After rising to fame via large-scale monumental initiatives within the 1960’s, Kim grew to become more and more vital of his personal method. He started to query design in relation to the state versus particular person identification and particular person freedom. He aspired to outline his personal method and directed focus to the ‘human’ facet of design. On the identical time, Kim pursued a deep understanding and promotion of Korean artwork, structure, crafts, music, and efficiency. The architect was significantly struck by the mysticism of Korean areas, which he believed to be an essence of conventional Korean aestheticism. Abandoning béton brut, the 1970’s interval was characterised by humanistic design, meticulous consideration to human scale, tactility, irregular kinds and rhythm of house. More and more, Kim most well-liked earthy supplies, brick specifically. The Korean-style density of areas, the particular natural unity between the entire and its intricate parts, grew to become an essential precept in Kim’s design methodology.

In 1972, Kim constructed his personal House Group of Korea headquarters constructing in Seoul, and inside it, the House Gallery centered on the show of works of up to date artwork, prints, ceramics, crafts, calligraphy, pictures, and structure. 1977 noticed the opening of an intimate subterranean House Theatre within the House Group constructing, the place, each trendy and conventional performs, music, dance, movies, by international and home artists alike, have been carried out, and lectures, symposiums, and workshops within the arts have been held. As well as, the House Group constructing included a crafts store, and a restaurant. Korean cultural leaders and international intellectuals alike, gathered round House Group of Korea and Kim himself, who possessed a uncommon breed of persona that offers momentum to cultural actions.

The House Group constructing, acclaimed as one in every of Kim’s masterpieces, embodies Kim’s idea of such ‘final house’. Throughout his final part, Kim deliberate and designed plenty of civic and cultural facilities, meant to be the center of the respective communities inside Seoul and overseas, together with the Olympic Stadium, Artwork Heart of Korean Tradition and Artwork Basis, and the Kyung Dong Church.


Kim Swoo Geun’s 10 Most Unbelievable Designs

1.Freedom Centre

The Freedom Heart and Worldwide Freedom Corridor have been constructed on Namsan Mountain within the early Nineteen Sixties by the navy regime put in after the Might 16 coup, which aimed to make Korea the primary anti-communist outpost in Asia. On the time, it was a large-scale nationwide memorial, however right this moment, the Freedom Heart is simply remembered as one in every of architect Kim Swoo-geun’s earliest works.
The middle (with one underground ground and 7 aboveground flooring) was initially constructed to be the primary constructing of the Asia Anti-Communism Federation with an uncovered mass concrete method, which makes use of solely naked concrete because the dealing with. Nonetheless, right this moment’s Freedom Heart is roofed in a coat of paint that utterly conceals the concrete, which itself had been an emblem of the constructing’s commemorative perform. First tried by Swiss-French grasp of recent structure Le Corbusier, the uncovered mass concrete method was utilized to many subsequent works by his disciple, Kim Chung Up, in addition to Kim Swoo-geun, main the Nineteen Sixties to grow to be referred to as the “period of uncovered mass concrete.” The Freedom Heart’s structural magnificence consists of a cantilever (a beam that protrudes from a wall or column) that turns up towards the sky—at a distance equal to that from the roof to the bottom—and a large colonnade. The central stairway that connects to the foyer space emphasizes the constructing’s authority.

2. Seoul Olympic Stadium

The Seoul Olympic Stadium often known as Jamsil Olympic Stadium (previously romanised as Chamshil), is a multi-purpose stadium in Seoul, South Korea. It’s the foremost stadium constructed for the 1988 Summer time Olympics and the tenth Asian Video games in 1986. It’s the centrepiece of the Seoul Sports activities Advanced within the Songpa District, within the southeast of the town south of the Han River. The traces of the stadium’s profile imitate the elegant curves of a Korean Joseon Dynasty porcelain vase. Spectator seats are distributed on two tiers, half lined. Initially constructed with a capability of roughly 100,000, right this moment it seats 69,950.

Earlier than its development, Seoul’s largest venues have been Dongdaemun Stadium and Hyochang Stadium. Seating 30,000 and 20,000 respectively, they have been too small to draw world-class sporting occasions. Development on the brand new stadium started in 1977 with the intention of staging the Asian Video games in 1986. When Seoul was awarded the Video games of the XXIV Olympiad in September 1981, this stadium grew to become the centrepiece.


3. Walker Hill Hill Prime Bar

The Walker Hill Hill Prime Bar is a landmark of Walker Hill which was commenced as an leisure advanced for foreigners in 1962. Walker Hill was named after Lieutenant Normal Walker who was the primary commander of the eighth division of the U.S. Military and died within the Korea Conflict. This pavilion is located within the highest place of Walker Hill and its fundamental kind is a reversed pyramid of ‘W’. The second ground is a bar the place folks can respect an attractive view. Kim designed this  legibly symbolic constructing, this time in jap Seoul with the form of the Hilltop Bar paying tribute to Walker. Kim’s uncommon construction nonetheless stands on Walker Hill, and nonetheless appears basically the identical, although subsequent renovation has downplayed all of the concrete floor so architecturally trendy within the Nineteen Sixties, and the enterprise occupying it has modified: the Hilltop Bar is gone, however Pizza Hill lives on.


4. The Republic of Korea Pavilion

The Republic of Korea Pavilion might look moderately small when considered from a distance, however it’s so engaging that when guests get shut they’re virtually sure to look inside. It’s on Ile Sainte-Hélène, a mere step from the Métro station. The pavilion is constructed solely of wooden and combines the traditional great thing about conventional Korean structure and the qualities of recent design. At its entrance a tower soars excessive in the direction of the sky, an integral function that symbolizes Korea’s aspirations. Within the exhibition corridor guests meet the Korea of yesterday and right this moment, land and other people, progress and improvement. Particular shows are dedicated to Korean artwork via greater than 4,000 years. A big and genuine mannequin of the world’s first iron-clad warship, designed by Admiral Yi Solar-Shin in 1595, is on show in addition to a reproduction of a fifth Century Maitreya Buddha picture, the masterpiece of the Sylla Dynasty (B.C. 57-A.D. 935) sculpture. Manufactured items of many sorts produced in Korea are on show, and an knowledgeable workers shall be glad to reply was extensively praised to have performed a major function in revealing Korea′s nationwide identification to the world at the moment. This pavilion demonstrates a number of completely different design intentions. The pavilion tried to mediate between custom and modernity in Korean structure. Though the design manifested the aesthetic sense of the Korean conventional housing hanokvia making use of the hanok′s wood construction, the designer additionally mirrored on trendy architectural ideas via implementing open areas and irregularly organized columns in accordance with features. The pavilion mediates between genuine Korean and Japanese conventional types. Influenced by his academic background in Japan, Kim drew on his notion of Japanese structure when designing this pavilion and included Japanese conventional parts. The pavilion mediates between the processes of preservation and improvement in an city context, and the preservation situation of this constructing continues to be an ongoing debate.


5. Tower Lodge 

Within the mid-Twentieth century, high-rises meant modernity, and so mid-Twentieth century city improvement, within the East a minimum of the West, meant high-rises. But regardless of Kim’s unofficial function as one thing of a state architect in a fast-developing state determined to sign its personal modernity, he seldom labored in that kind. His Tower Lodge, first constructed to accommodate company of the Freedom Heart, is an exception: its seventeen tales, symbolizing the seventeen nations that took half within the Korean Conflict, made it the tallest constructing in Korea on the time. It nonetheless stands out in its now startlingly unbuilt-on a part of Seoul, although it does so not because the Tower Lodge however because the Seoul department of Thailand’s Banyan Tree Membership and Spa.

6. Arko Theatre

The Arko Arts Theater opened in 1981, and it’s one in every of Daehak-ro’s main theaters. The theater spans 5 ranges in whole with three flooring above floor and two underground ranges. The theater’s venues embody the primary corridor, the small corridor, Studio Darak which is used as a multi-purpose room, and apply amenities. Along with being a efficiency venue, the Arko Arts Theater additionally provides academic applications on classical Korean music, appearing, and dance. The theater is conveniently positioned near Hyehwa Station. Each have a foremost corridor, a small corridor, studios and a restaurant. Collectively they host round 160 performances per yr and welcome round 140,000 guests, contributing to the preservation, sustainability and improvement of performing arts. The constructing is an attractive terra cotta brick, with easy but placing traces, and detailed brickwork. The impact is unassuming and but placing. 


7. House Centre

Within the early 1970’s Kim designed the headquarters of his architectural agency, SPACE Group. The title displays Kim’s central concept about craft: “Structure isn’t about constructions, however actually about house,” as his protege (and onetime Seoul Metropolis Architect) Seung H-Sang, as soon as put it. “The outside of a constructing is simply to cowl up the house inside, and it’s the house inside that’s crucial.” But it surely was the outside of the SPACE Group constructing that gave Kim a extremely seen probability to make good on his promise, after the Buyeo Nationwide Museum fiasco, to make a return to his Korean roots. He did it with brick, an retro constructing materials on the time, and brick that brings to thoughts jeondol, the fired clay blocks used for palaces and ritualistic constructions throughout the centuries of the Joseon Dynasty previous to Japanese colonization.

Kim discovered a website for the SPACE Group Constructing in Bukchon, a neighborhood now identified for its focus of conventional (and dear) hanok homes however which within the Nineteen Seventies had much more of them than it does right this moment. It was additionally the neighborhood the place Kim spent his adolescence, his household having relocated there in 1943 from Chongjin in present-day North Korea. Any structure critic can be tempted to attract parallels — although “parallels” will not be fairly the geometrically acceptable time period — between the winding, slender alleys of Bukchon and the organically layered inside areas of buildings like this one. He might effectively have made this nonetheless often-quoted commentary with Bukchon in thoughts when he stated, “The narrower a great avenue the higher, and the broader a nasty avenue the higher.” (Although one may effectively query  the second half of that assertion if one has tried to stroll alongside a Gangnam thoroughfare like, say, Teheran-ro.)


8. Kyung Dong Church

By the early Eighties, Kim altered course from the cruder language of uncovered concrete that marked his civic and institutional initiatives. His focus turned to a extra subdued and layered articulation of house, a transfer commensurate with the brand new association of supplies that elevated the peculiar right into a profound visible and tactile expertise. The charcoal-coloured brick that mimicked jeondol – fired clay blocks of historical origins identified virtually completely for palatial makes use of and ritualistic functions – fashioned his raised braille-like facades, that are reserved but wholly intricate to command decorative standing.


9. Nationwide Meeting Constructing

If post-war Korean structure lacked an avant-garde architect gilded with a utopian imaginative and prescient or manifesto worthy sufficient for worldwide translation, Kim was the closest one might vouch for. His tenure in Korea had begun with a political fee, his 1960 profitable competitors entry for South Korea’s first Nationwide Meeting Constructing deliberate for Namsan Hill. A yr later, what launched his profession and prompted his return from Tokyo fell sideways within the aftermath of the 16 Might coup that propelled President Park Chung-hee into energy. Earlier than 1975 the South Korean authorities used the present Seoul Metropolitan Council Constructing, a public corridor created throughout the Japanese occupation of Korea. 



10. Nationwide Museum in Buyeo

Kim’s work of the early Nineteen Sixties would appear to impeccably show the sensibilities, each  nationalist and pro-American, then demanded of any high-profile South Korean. However these credentials got here into query in 1967, with the opening of his Nationwide Museum in Buyeo. Journalists, and even different architects, charged Kim’s design, reminiscent because it was of the Shinto Ise Grand Shrine, as excessively Japanese — a probably career-ending accusation in these days, particularly for a Korean not simply educated in Japan however married to a Japanese girl. “As a result of conventional Korean structure is my psychological basis,” Kim insisted in response, “it’s from conventional Korean structure I’ve drawn affect.”



In 1977, his work as an arts-and-culture impresario received him described because the “Lorenzo di Medici of Seoul” by Time journal.That appellation has caught to Kim’s picture over the a long time, due not least to its having been utilized by a Western publication (and to an architect who usually appeared to construct both for or with a watch towards the remainder of the world). However the article’s headline described him, extra amusingly and maybe extra precisely, as “The Swinging Lorenzo of Seoul.” And due to the generosity, even profligacy, that suggests, Kim was no stranger to monetary precariousness. The best way he later remembered getting began on the SPACE Constructing sums up his angle towards cash issues: “I used to be so deep in debt to the financial institution that my home and the land for the SPACE Group Constructing had been up for public sale a number of occasions. Even so, I began development the constructing that’s on the land right this moment. You’ll be able to run up a debt of cash, however you may neither borrow nor repay time: with that thought, I simply went forward and constructed.” In some ways, Kim was a controversial architect and determine. He additionally garnered much less worldwide acclaim, maybe due to the political situations of Korea and his lack of publicity / constructing alternatives within the West. His buildings, nonetheless, left a legacy of modernism in Korea and clearly left a mark on the event of structure as a apply.