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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.

SEOUL CHRONICLE by MasilWIDE Architecture

November 13th, 2015 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: MasilWIDE Architecture 

The design of Sejong-daero historic cultural space is about connecting levels between above-ground and underground. The spatial connection below ground carries excavation, which used to recognize as inevitable destruction of historical remains. To construct historic cultural space in the center of the Seoul where it is surrounded by historic places and various landmarks, we take two attitudes below.

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

First attitude is respect to existing remain. We accept underground context as well as above ground context, and excavate with archaeologist’s careful attitude. This process consists of reading urban depth in fractured segments and understanding historic events. Rearranging historic events in order and adding today’s layer enables to keep the Seoul chronicle. This process will develop memory of the city into story of the city.

Second, we take the neutral attitude for more possibilities of space. All surrounding contexts are equally important and influencing space. The space need to be used in various ways with different programs per surrounding neighbor’s request. To contain various programs, the space should be indeterminate rather than specifically defined. This attitude leads to form the space with open voids and horizontal platform which is defined by people’s behavior, and provides fields of interaction to the people of Seoul.


The void space at roof brings the surround scenery into urban platform. Lifted up with careful manner, Seoul Anglican Cathedral is visible from Seoul Plaza and Sejongdaero. The roof elevation is same height as of Deoksugung stone-wall and enables to see Deoksugung palace and Seoul Plaza as a lookout.

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture


Surrounded by different agents, Seoul Anglican Cathedral, Seoul Metropolitan Council, Cecil Theater, Deoksugung, Seoul Metropolitan Library and Seoul Plaza, ground space requires making the relationship among them with visual connection and various activities. Based on events among surrounded agents, void platform brings variations with changes. Minimum infrastructure is provided for events on the floor.

On ground level, enclosed glass wall is divided into two parts where visitor center and cafe are located to provide short cut to Jeong-dong hill. This passage is replica of old passage which used to connected to Sogong-ro and provides visual connection to Hwangu-dan.

Top level is platform which extends level of Deoksugung stone-wall and covers whole site. This neutral platform enables various activities for surrounding neighbors and overlooks Seoul Plaza to recall moments of modern history.


With minimum architectural devices, we rearranged fractured segments of historical events in order. This process develops memory of the city into story of the city and keeps the Seoul chronicle. Here, we provide interaction fields to the people of Seoul in the stream of history and society.

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

In relation to Seoul city’s historic recovery projects, and expecting historic remains on site, remains garden is located at void space in B3 level. Archive room, library and exhibition space in other levels are connected through social steps and provides integrated space for cultural events.

The results for the Sejongdaero Competition have been announced. This competition aims to establish a place where the past, present and the future stay altogether in the site of the old National Tax Service Annex by connecting it with the dispersed attractions like Deoksugung and other architectural heritages as well as City Hall which hosts various public activities. The neighboring areas including the site have been worked as a node point from the era of Korean Empire to the present, representing Seoul and Korea. And these spaces have been expected to be shaped as a place which has inherited the aesthetics of cultural landscape of Seoul, and at the same time, as an open venue revealing public atmosphere.

Along with a preliminary design for the site of the old National Tax Service Annex, the applicants proposed not only a masterplan covering the basement area of Sejongdaero but also a comprehensive and wide networking system connecting the old downtown areas of Seoul. Their common goal was to promote a new vision for the future upon the whole areas in which overlapping time and epochal events have left stains of historical meanings and layers of time. Based on the creative and diverse ideas of applicants, the site is expected to be transformed into a square with a new concept, which integrates the history of Sejondaero and public character, and also into a valuable main historic and cultural space for the public, which speaks for the future civic values outweighing the state.

80 teams from 20 countries have participated in the competition, and total 13 proposals have been awarded; including the winner, one each for the 2nd and 3rd prize, and 10 honorable mentions. The judges have selected the winner on the grounds of its solid scheme boosting the potential and feasibility of site as a main historical space of Seoul, open public space and a future creative space. About the winner, “Seoul Chronicle”, they commented that it has well interpreted the historical layers of the neighboring areas of site and also the geographical level conditions of natural environment surrounding Seoul, and then it has merged their interpretation into architecture and landscape very successfully.

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Kim Tae-Hyung, the chief of Urban Space Improvement Bureau of Seoul said “the surrounding areas of the site of the old National Tax Service building are richly filled with historical assets like Deoksugung,  Gyeonghuigung and Sungnyemun along with valuable cultural assets such as Seoul Anglican Cathedral, Seoul City Council and Chungdong Church, which are deeply related with the modern history of Seoul”, and continued that while preserving the historical value of Sejongdaero, he will make the site as a civic space in which people can experience not only history and culture but also various activities.

Jury Comments

First Place: Seoul Chronicle

‘Seoul Chronicle’ is the most creative and brilliant proposal among others. It translated the layer of history around the site in micro-view, and in macro-veiw, it interpreted the nature’s level and layer surrounding Seoul. The urban platform lifted from the ground is the roof of underground space, and also a square, where it can embrace numerous activities. The simple and understated rectangular platform is raised to the Deoksugung Palace Stonewall level, creating attractive viewpoint, overlooking the cathedral, Seoul Plaza, and Sogongro. Platform creates well-scaled wall and roof in walking spaces. The space, where time has transform into material, gives people unexpected joy and undetermined exhibition space will host variety of events, with Citizen Hall. The relation with parking area of the cathedral, the continuity of 2nd phase design will be a problem, but if the plan finalizes with original masterplan, it will bring the historicity, publicity, and potential of Sejongdaero to whole new level.

Second Place: Time Connector

It had most thorough analysis of urban structure, which made the citizen hall and 3d walking space perfectly correspond spatially and visually to the Sejongdaero, British Embassy, and Seohakdanggil. The bench on the ramp is a sear toward City Hall. The gallery and heritage museum along the ramp is well connected to the Deoksugung Underground path. If long-term masterplan was finished, it would have made great cityscape, integrated with Citizen Hall.

Third Place: Seoul Living Room

It proposed a well-balanced design between Sejongdaero, the cathedral and the square. The ‘platform of memory’ lifted with the boundary of the visual axis created by Seohakdanggil and Sogongro. It minimized the protrude above ground, and made great use of the space. If the ‘stair stage of memory’ is connected to the cathedral’s parking area, it would make a meaningful node point, between above and underground space.

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

Image Courtesy © MasilWIDE Architecture

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