Kyobo Tower in Seoul, South Korea
Corner Gangnam-Dae-Road and Sa-Pyong-Road
Kyobo Life Insurance Co., Seocho,
Architect of record
Chang-Jo Architects, Inc.,
Net floor area
58'000 m² above ground (total 92'717 m²)
The building of the Kyobo insurance company in the Seocho district is located at an important intersection that links the various parts of the city. This location evokes a powerful image as a point of reference within the complex fabric of the city. With its austere bearing, it takes in all the metropolitan energy flowing at its base. The exceptional feature of this opus lies in the contraposition of large solids and open slashes that alternate different levels of interpretation, from the depth of the landscape to the refined detailing of the terracotta masonry. Its vertical image - eloquent and forceful - distinguishes it as a contemporary fortress that can draw attention: in effect, it is a new urban sign and a recognisable presence above and beyond the functional contents (offices) that characterise it. In terms of the façade along the main thoroughfare, the upper floor presents two separate blocks connected by a narrow glassed-in passageway that unites the connections vertically. The outer bodies convey a sense of great solidity through the pace of the brise-soleil protecting the exterior, whereas the centre of the building is presented as an element with fragile skin. The latter is designed as a transparent heart characterising the very soul of the tower. It affords an unusual vista, with a large constructed garden that can be enjoyed from the different levels. Instead, the arrangement of the upper portion of the building features a lens-shaped roof that protects the wide terraces of the rooftop floors. Viewed as a whole, the new Kyobo building in the Seocho district strives to cast the spell of charisma and mystery of the great architectures of the past. In the architect's words, "With this building, I intentionally resisted against the levelling typical of our contemporary language, in an attempt to restore to buildings the role of testimony and memory that represents the very reason cities exist."