photo credit: Wiki commons (Sungnyemun), Dongdaemun Design Plaza (e.reeder)
I was recently reminded of 'Seoul time' for two reasons- the first being the drawn-out and ongoing construction of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza project by Zaha Hadid. Under construction now for more than 4 years and still with seemingly much to be done (and without the benefit of inside information on the interior completion status). I asked myself "what in Seoul today takes more than 4 years to construct" and the answer is nearly nothing- except for the recent completion of Sungnyemun (Seoul's historic South Gate). The South Gate was under construction for a little more than 5 years after having sustained severe damage in an arsonists attempt to burn it down.
These lengthy construction times seem the exception in Seoul now. Perhaps here are where the similarities end- as I recently watched for a moment, workers at Dongdaemun Design Plaza shuffle precariously across scaffolding. Pieces that have been erected with today's technologies and tools and the benefit of industrialized know-how, so-to-speak. Yet, the irregularity of regularity has drawn out time in Dongdaemun. Its missing 'facade teeth' revealing the intensive calculating process of fitting together a shapely 'future,' to the detriment of vast resource consumption. It's concealed steel skeleton testament to this.
At odds is the South Gate having been rebuilt with hand labor and traditional technique. Stones, hand-split with hammer imprecision. The ancient times of building remembered in low tech and resource efficiency. Five years of labor in reconstructing 600 years of history.
Both Architectures are Seoul in today's time, at opposing polar corners of the city.