International Design Competition for New Gwanghwamun Square - 3rd Prize
Gwanghwamun Square reflects Seoul's urban landscape and topography. From the cultural and geographical point of view, the 'unspecified' space is proposed as a special solution. The square becomes a hybrid space that is a mixture of oriental concepts and abstract geometry.
The aim of this international competition was to develop a multifunctional Plaza for the population which can adapt to different situations.
The square is the courtyard of the city, and there is a non-functional space workshop (in German: Werkraum) that all citizens underneath will use.
Both of these spaces are unspecified spaces, but they are assigned functions over time. Cities are not developed by politicians or architects, but by waking citizens. Architects do not share the function of space. They determine the direction of design.
I believe that the citizens will set the right function for themselves. A city is only stabilized when there is a change.
"Architecture is embodied by buildings"¹ spiritual order. The memory of history
is culturalized and becomes a place. Gwanghwamun is the center of 'cultural axis' and both facades will become cultural space. Gwanghwamun Square becomes a place faithful to the castle.
The hybrid space is a mirrored space.
Baroque embodied the eternity of the dynasty through axes (connected endlessly) and symmetry (endlessly unfolding). Seoul will be divided and connected through mirroring. The plaza of Seoul will be expanded and developed coexisting with the past and present, oriental and western, specific and unspecified, and the ground plaza and underground creative studios mirror each other. Seoul´s Werkraum is a mirrored city.
The boundary separating Gwanghwamun Square is not an object but a line, a plane, and a space. This space is a three dimensional walking space, open to the left and right ends of the square, and is also a frequent communication space.
Hans Hollein says that:
"The form of a building is a change in the state of the material according to its purpose. A building must not exhibit a practical function, it is not a structure or a construction, it is not a cover or a shelter. The building is a building. Architecture is unspecified. What we have built will find its utility. The form does not follow the function. Forms do not generate forms themselves."¹
The square is an empty space, Maidang, a regular space, and a disfunctional space. Below the square – it is also an unexpected and unusual space. However, the square is transformed into a daily space filled with culture, and the non-functional space is infiltrated into everyday life by allowing the citizens to function freely. Daily life and non-daily life exist parallel.
The concept of centrality, that is, the place where the length converges in the West or the square becomes the center of the city, and the hierarchy occurs, but Korea is a place where streets or marketplaces horizontally connect and communicate with each other without hierarchy. It is a place of movement at the same time.
Urban transparency (street, alleyway, arcade) is an important theme. Healthy cities are highly permeable cities. A dense walkway like Seoul's cellular structure should be restored. Also, the streets of Seoul should be restored with features of mountain-to-mountain roads or mountain-downtown-mountain connections. Unlike the western cities, Seoul is not the center of the central square, but the center of the city and the streets are formed by the culture of the Feng Shui-zi by placing the center of the city power on the outskirts rather than the center. This distance must be restored and regenerated. Mt. Bugaksan in the North and Mt. Namsan in the South should be connected again. This is the hallmark of the City of Seoul.
The streets that are connected by trees are huge open spaces. This Ecological Calligraphy - a series of tree-lines to complement a large open space and fulfil the need of residents for more introverted, community-oriented open spaces. It ensures an everyday visual connection to the greenery.
It is a space for local residents' self-government and community-oriented culture. On this street, the geographical features of the four seasons, that characterize the locality and the Korean climate of Seoul, appear native plants. As the 4th stage of the Changdeokgung Palace, there is a street where the season itself is revealed. At the center of this landscape is Gwanghwamun Square; an empty space (void) makes the surroundings visible and the surroundings adjusted.
Original source: ¹ Hans Hollain of Ulrich Konrad Quotation: Program and Declaration of 20th Century Architecture, p.182 MIT 출판부, ISBN: 9780262030397197 (1971)
Mladen Jadric is teaching (TU) and practicing architecture in Vienna, Austria. He has realized a wide range of projects of different scales: architectural and urban design projects, housing, residences, art installations and experiments with new materials and technologies in Austria, USA, Finland and China. He has gained extensive experience as a visiting professor and guest lecturer in Europe, USA, Asia, Australia, and South America. He has exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, M.I.T., Cooper Union, and Roger Williams University, USA; Alvar Aalto University, Helsinki, the Architectural Biennale in Venice, the World Architectural Triennale in Tokyo, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urban Planning, NIT-Nagoya, and many more. He received the State Award for Experimental Architecture, Karl Scheffel Preis and Schorsch Preis for housing by City of Vienna, Grand Prize by Mayor of Busan, Korea. Member of Künstlerhaus.