Dynastic traditions inspired UnSangDong Architects's egalitarian installation in Seoul, South Korea
Mairi Beautyman -- Interior Design, 7/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
It's not exactly easy to send a royal invitation to an entire city, especially when you have no access to heralds on horseback. Nevertheless, UnSangDong Architects Cooperation attempted to do just that, conceptually, with the help of 60 ribbons of translucent white vinyl. They danced in the breeze above the historic Seoul Plaza during the Hi Seoul Festival, which draws over a million people annually. This year, the eight-day cultural event paid tribute to the South Korean capital's five grand palaces built under the Joseon dynasty, spanning the period from 1392 to 1910.
"It was a communicating structure organically joining buildings, streets, and plaza, continuously altered by sunlight, artificial lighting, and the wind," principal Jang Yoon Gyoo says of the temporary installation, Urban Connector—Thousand Palaces. He and his fellow principal, Shin Chang Hoon, developed a 225,000-square-foot form based on a traditional parasol that could once be used only by royalty. (Trying one out would land the offending commoner in jail.) It took five days to attach the vinyl ribbons, reinforced with nylon cord to prevent tangles, to two hotels, a children's educational institute, and city hall.
Opening and closing ceremonies, a traditional Korean ball, and events such as dance lessons and mask-making, were held beneath the roof of ribbons. At nighttime, as sweeping lights programmed to change color and pattern splashed vibrant images on both the ribbons and the crowd, the piece effectively transformed all citizens into kings and queens, signifying an openness to new ideas and broadened horizons. "It soared up to the sky, to the city, and to the whole world," Jang says. Now that the installation has come down, segments have been installed throughout Seoul, bringing comfort and shade to anyone who happens to be in need—royal or not.
THROUGHOUT MAKMAX KOREA: RIBBON MATERIAL. UNIONE COMMUNICATIONS: LIGHTING CONSULTANT.
Rendering courtesy of UnSangDong Architects. Photos courtesy of Sergio Pirrone.