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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea by DPA

November 30th, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Dominique Perrault Architecture

Flying is the best way to reach the shores of Seoul Ewha University’s new building (founded in 1886, Ewha welcomes 22.000 female students and is ranked as one of the best universities in the world), thought and realised by Dominique Perrault, as a result of an international architecture competition organised in 2003, and inaugurated on April 29th 2008.

Image Courtesy André Morin

ECC Valley Concert

A landscape then, more than an architecture work, located in the midst of Seoul’s university area. A campus valley where nature, sport grounds, event locations and educational buildings mix, intermingle and follow one another. A long asphalted strip, delineated at one end by a race track, and completely surrounded by nature. Arranged nature where pear trees and topiary reign. Black asphalt, red race track, green nature and finally the white brightness of the valley appears. A valley, which is bravely drawn in the ground, slides down along a gentle slope. At the other end of the valley, the slope becomes a huge stairway which can be used as an open air amphitheatre if necessary.

ECC Valley Concert

At the very heart of the valley, a dreamlike immersion takes place. Opposed to the outdoor world, a subtle and serene universe appears suddenly. Classrooms and libraries, amphitheatres and auditoriums, shops and movement… Everything follows up without any lack of natural light.

Image Courtesy Suk Joon YOON

Perrault is prone to buried, excavated, nestled places (the French National Library in Paris, the Velodrome and Olympic swimming pool in Berlin, both realised, the studies for the Kansai Library in Japan and the Cultural Centre in Santiago de Compostela, Spain…) Perrault has the desire, physically speaking, to appropriate the territory, to mingle the construction with the ground, the desire to exploit to its paroxysm the idea that “concept and matter have to grapple one with another”.

Image Courtesy André Morin

At Ewha University, Perrault put one more time in action: words (idea, concept, abstraction, geometry, strategy, tension, fusion, freedom, simplicity, evidence…), principles (physics, mechanics, dimension…) and commitments (urban concerns, creation of a location and not only of a building, refusal of formalism, and disappearance of architecture…) which best qualify his architecture.

Image Courtesy André Morin

With the inauguration of Seoul Ewha Womans University, Dominique Perrault attests his intense international activity (ME Hotel in Barcelona, achievement in May 2008,the NH-Fieramilano Hotel in Milan, May 2009, the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg, December 2008, the Tennis Stadium in Madrid, May 2009, the DC Towers in Vienna, 2012…).

Image Courtesy André Morin


The new campus centre of the University of Ewha will be completed in May 2008 and will accommodate 20 000 students. It includes spaces for study and sport, offices, a cinema and car parks.

The idea of this underground university was born out of the desire to preserve a large green space in the centre of the university campus. The six-storey building is organized around a long ramp sloping down in opposition with the gently rising natural topography. The two large glass curtain walls facing the external circulation ramp serve as elements for day lighting and allow for natural ventilation of parts of the building as well.

Image Courtesy André Morin

The specificity of this building is the link between the architectural concepts and the sustainable strategies adopted. In fact, the first architectural ideas (underground building, green garden, landscape fracture) that give its strong identity to the building enable extraordinary performances in terms of sustainability. The sustainable strategies include:

Image Courtesy André Morin

Green roof

Besides the aesthetic and psychological benefits, numerous ecological benefits include the recovery of green space in this area of Seoul, moderation of the urban heat island effect, improved storm-water management, water and air purification and a reduction in energy consumption.
Specific benefits include:

  • Enhanced Ecology – The roof offers dramatic biodiversity benefits including the provision of valuable habitats for nationally important species. The roof will absorb particulate pollution and airborne pollutants and contributes to noise reduction,
  • Mitigation of storm water – The rapid run-off from roof surfaces can often result in flooding or extensive increase in drainage capacity. A major benefit of green roofs is their ability to absorb storm-water and release it slowly over a period of several hours,
  • Improved roof temperature – The protection of fluctuations in temperature helps reduce internal energy consumption. As a consequence, the classrooms under the green roof are more stable providing greater comfort to users.


Image Courtesy André Morin

Natural resources and renewable energy

The presence of structural retaining walls around the building led to the idea to use them as a media to harvest geothermal energy. This idea participates to a “natural resources using strategy” completed by the use of groundwater energy.

The step by step system used to heat and cool the building combines:

  • Thermal labyrinth through the retaining walls (pre-heating and pre-cooling of fresh air),
  • Ground water energy (pre-cooling of fresh air during summer),
  • Heat recovery system,
  • Combined Heat and Power Plant.

At the end, 80% (winter) and 70% (summer) of the energy demands are provided only by natural

Image Courtesy André Morin

Water efficiency
The benefits of the proposed green roof have been described. In addition to this, measures to reduce potable water consumption have been used including

  • Low water using fittings,
  • Rainwater collection: rainwater is collected from the roof, stored, and then used as the needs arise.


Image Courtesy André Morin

Image Courtesy André Morin

Image Courtesy André Morin

Image Courtesy Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost

Image Courtesy Gaëlle Lauriot-Prévost

Image Courtesy Dominique Perrault

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Category: University Building

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