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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Seongnam City Hall, Seongnam, Korea

KMD Architects wins international design competition for Seongnam City Hall
A year and a half after winning the international design competition for the new Seoul City Hall, KMD in association with Samoo Architects and Hyundai has won a second international design competition in Korea, this time for the new Seongnam City Hall near Seoul. One of Seoul’s booming “satellite” cities, Seongnam has seen its population grow rapidly since the early 1990s and needed a new civic space to expand its administrative capabilities. In addition, the new city hall is strategically located to unify Seongnam with the Bundang district, a relatively new planned community at the south edge of the city that is one of the wealthiest and most heavily populated parts of the region. The design is intended to appeal to the new generation of Korea’s environmentally conscious, tech-savvy citizens. The new city hall is a 130-foot-high, 800,000-square-feet structure that combines both government and citizen services. While traditionally council chambers and city halls occupy separate buildings in Korea, here the two are joined and placed at the same level to express the belief that the people and the government should see eye to eye. “We carefully considered the evolving role of the government, and we decided to combine the council chambers and city hall into one building, a new and forward-thinking approach that we hoped the City would embrace—and they did!” said Ryan Stevens, Design Principal at KMD. The ground level of City Hall is open and transparent to inspire a sense of community and interaction, putting the activities within on display. Easily accessible, this level contains all citizen administrative services and an auditorium for public hearings and other special events. The council chambers are cantilevered above the ground plane to further create a sense of openness. The plaza surrounding the complex offers public gardens and water features for employees and visitors alike to enjoy at all hours. The building’s shell incorporates a number of sustainable elements, including solar panels, sun shading, and extensive glazing, considerably reducing energy consumption for air conditioning and allowing natural light to penetrate deep into the large floor plate. The height restriction made it challenging to create an iconic element within the civic complex; as a result the winning design is a sculptural one, with a great attention to detail and a multitude of jewel-like facets. To link the civic center with surrounding residential neighborhoods, the structure has no front or back, offering access on all sides with several entry points and pedestrian paths around, through, and beneath the elegant cantilever and atrium.

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