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R&D Hub Kolon One & Only Tower

Expressing innovation and sustainability

Morphosis

R&D Hub Kolon One & Only Tower
By Michael Webb -

Kolon Industries is a chaebol, one of the family-led conglomerates that turned post-war South Korea into an economic power house, and is now one of that nation’s dominant players. It began by making synthetic fibers (Kolon is an abreviation for KOrean nyLON) but has branched out into clothing, chemical research, and much else. Its chairman, Lee Woong-Yeul, wanted a prominent symbol of his vibrant company (headquartered in a provincial city) and commissioned Morphosis to design a new research facility in Seoul. The 75,000 sq. m building is located in Magok, a new R&D park beside the Han River on the north-west edge of the city. Formerly the site of the city airport, it is now a forest of cranes, as other corporations crowd into this prestigious complex. Kolon was one of the first, and occupies a prime site beside the waterfront park. Two nine-story blocks of laboratories and offices extend back from what Morphosis call a “thickened façade” and a low concrete podium, oriented west towards the park. Lee wanted to demonstrate Kolon’s commitment to sustainability (it sponsors the Korean mountaineering team) and the entry façade was inspired by the multiple layers of its signature cold-weather jacket. As project architect Yi Eui-Sung recalls, “We made more than 50 studies before settling on this second skin of interlocked fiber-reinforced polymer modules, folded to shade the upper half. It employs materials that Kolon manufactures and showcases their innovative culture”. Traditionally, such a brise-soleil is supported on a massive steel frame that is visible from behind. Architects and client wanted the view out to be as clean and uncluttered as it appears from outside. That required a self-supporting monocoque shell, in which the three arms of each module are joined to its neighbors with stainless steel clips. Aramid, a Kolon product that is similar to carbon fiber, reinforces the sleeves of each arm, and the skin...

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