Condencity_42 long city

Saewoon Sanga during the 1970's

The birth of modern architecture in Seoul was in part initiated by the construction of Saewoon Sanga in the mid 1960s. It's construction erased a half century of contentious urban 'vacancy' and representation. In the early 20th century a 1km strip of land was cleared by Japanese Colonial occupation and served as a fire break in the city during war time. After the Korean War, new urban settlers quickly constructed shanty villages and the area became known as the cities red light district. Rapid post war reconstruction of Seoul and a growing economy, fueled a burgeoning electronics industry and instigated needs for a larger modern market place. 

The vision for Saewoon Sanga by renowned Korean architect Kim Swoo Geun and city officials was thus an unprecedented mega-mixed use project of electronics commerce, educational and residential spaces, stretching the entire 1km. The ambitions of the project, while never fully materializing in diversity of mixed-use functions, did become the cities largest electronics market and most desirable residential address. Home to movie stars and corporate CEO's it's vibrant climax was quickly overcome by subsequent residential and electronics markets in other parts of Seoul. What has become today is a marginalized market of working class dwellers struggling to survive amidst a city that has quickly surpassed (and left behind) the advancements of what Saewoon Sanga once represented. 

Today, the mega-structure stands silently the same as it has for the past 45 years. Virtually unchanged and in disrepair its fate to demolition cranes apparently decided by the city of Seoul. This stretch of concrete form will once again become 'empty' as in urban park, dispersing its commercial tenants and residents of decades to other hidden corners of the city. It appears an un-thoughtfully simple solution for such a complex and fascinating place, to completely demolish the birth place of 'modern' in Seoul.

Condencity_41 dead ends

Night and day are reversed in the dead-end corners of Seoul. The sky exists as a night like grey metal cover with cool fluorescent eye-burning light. Just above, the day shines bright without notice. Narrow alleys pinch to shoulder width and terminate in shuttered doors. Boundaries of public and private space blur in obscurity and the chance to move forward is met with hesitation. Seoul's pulse are back alleys of work and mystery. 

Their presence, while here today appears to be something bordering the obsolete. As modernization of this city continues such curious roads are being raised and replaced with sterile glass towers. This road too has a finite future. In one form or another it will persist in our memories and imagination.

Seoul formless 2.2

Recently I have begun writing and researching about urban 'adaptations'. The economic machine of Seoul on a micro scale is evidence enough of how adaptable the generic office 'box' can be. With little regard for form or context the commercial shop adapts to any building location. Small spaces at the street front regularly appear and dissappear with the ebb and flo of economics. In return the street and city at large are constantly changed at face value.  Color, material and light exist apart from the building in which they are fashioned to.