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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Seoul Tsunami City Hall, The Other Korean Wave

Just a few pictures in case you missed the inauguration of the new Seoul City Hall (October 13).
If you wondered why I nicknamed the project "tsunami" as soon as I saw the first models a couple of years ago*, here's the new City Hall about to crash on the old one:
Note that the old building, erected during the Japanese occupation, has been converted into a library, and that the second floors of both structures are connected by a footbridge.

Actually I took that picture a few days ahead of the inauguration (October 8). I'd been invited, along with other foreign citizens, to shoot a video celebrating the event. Certainly no Academy Award material, but that was fun. The most embarrassing part was to watch said video as soon as I entered the building on inauguration day... scratch that: knowing that it was also displayed the same evening on the big screen over Seoul Plaza, that probably took the cake:
While I'm on Seoul Plaza. For the inauguration, the idea was to launch the kind of festive yet informal party a rural village would have for a major event. All citizens were invited**, and many came downtown to enjoy a lovely autumn saturday morning:
Now Seoul Plaza from above, as if you were riding the wave (9th floor, near the cafe). You can see the vegetable garden on the former City Hall's rooftop, and in the distance Sungnyemun, still under wraps:

From inside the surf tube, you see the green wall and the structure that regulate the building's microclimate*:

And if you're lucky, Mayor PARK Won-soon says hello in a final wave:

Again, I wish the facade backstage (on Sejong-daero 20-gil) were less miserable and more inviting, because this new and improved City Hall must become a passage point and an articulation for pedestrian circulation downtown. But the building is definitely worth a visit, and it already serves its original purpose: connecting the administration and its services to their environment, the streets and subway nearby, and all citizens.
Seoul Village 2012
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* see also recently "Seoul Old Towns or New Human Towns? New City Hall or Tsunamheat Wave?"
** including 18 ambassadors. I don't think OH Se-hoon was there, though...

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