SEOUL, Jun. 14 (Korea Bizwire) — The new headquarters of Amorepaific, South Korea’s biggest cosmetic company, is one of the latest eye-catching landmarks in the fast developing neighborhood of Yongsan, central Seoul.
The area has been going through a seismic change in its landscape and urban role as a massive U.S. army base is being turned into a park and old low-rise houses and buildings are being rapidly replaced by glitzy high-rises.
The company had long planned to build a new headquarters in the area. In 2004, it started buying up land surrounding its old headquarters. In 2010, the company commissioned David Chipperfield to build it, and the construction finished in December last year.
During a press conference held at the headquarters in Seoul, Chipperfield, who founded the firm in 1985, said there were two concerns regarding the central concept of the building that he shared with Chairman Suh Kyung-bae.
The new building should, first of all, work as a high-quality workplace. But no less importantly, it should give a fair amount of social consideration to serve community by offering “highly equipped social facilities and a space where people come in” freely.
“The city and the building sought integration between each other,” he said, adding that the building provides “social space” not only for people who come to work but also for ordinary citizens by offering public amenities like restaurants, a library, museum, kindergarten, library and cafes.
The three-story-high spacious atrium in the lobby, connected to the subway, brings a sense of community as it offers a meeting place for employees as well as people who walk through it.
The 64-year-old British architect said he felt it was fairly “unusual” for a businessman to “take a long term” in making a huge investment in quality architecture in the market-driven world of today.
From a architect’s point of view, it is very important to create a building with “great care” because people “tend to respect and try not to damage” things that they understand have been taken good care of before.
“When we make something well with great care, I am optimistic that people who come after us tend to respect it. We don’t destroy a building that we value.”
The 22-story building that sits on a 14,525-square-meter site takes a motif from a traditional Korean moon jar, which the architect described as a “cultural metaphor” and the “common understanding of beauty” between him and Amorepacific.
Its cubic exterior is covered by white aluminium fins, which the architect explained is very important to bring the light in and protect the building from the intensive summer heat and extreme cold of Korea.
Also by arranging the fins vertically, it allows an unobstructed view over the city’s landscape, the river and the mountains. The building comes with three five-to-six-story-high courtyards that blend the huge concrete block with is urban and natural surroundings and offers workers a refreshing place to let off some steam.
The globally-renowned architect has been mostly involved in renovating and expanding art institutions around the world. His firm’s project includes the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Literature in Germany and Museo Jumex in Mexico, among many others. He is also working on building the Nobel Center in Stockholm.