The competition for the Jongno-gu Government Center in Seoul asked us to imagine an innovative and sustainable proposal in a site layered with history and cultural significance. Believed to be the home of Jeong Do-jeon during the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, the historical city center has remained the center of political power for seven centuries.

Studio Name: Charles Rose Architects
Design Team: Charles Rose, Lee Dykxhoorn, Guannan Sun, Amanda Dellevigne, Candace Ju
Area: 65,970m2
Year: 2020
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Other Credits: Yamasaki Ku Hong Associates (Tae Sun Hong, Daejung Sang, Heewon Kim, Nak Kyoung Lee, Dongjae Kim)

Jongno-gu Government Center By Charles Rose Architects - Sheet4
©Charles Rose Architects

Located on a site just off the Avenue of Six Ministries and next to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Gwanghwamun Plaza, the government center site squarely between this tradition of history and contemporary culture. The brief calls for the inclusion of a fire station, municipal offices, neighborhood and cultural spaces with an existing low-rise historic building to be preserved and reused. The proposal pays respect to the historical city center while reflecting modern urban policies by merging government offices with shared cultural spaces open to the citizens of Seoul.

Jongno-gu Government Center By Charles Rose Architects - Sheet5
©Charles Rose Architects

The architectural massing supports the light-filled, south-facing park: three buildings form the central space; the buildings are sculpted to optimize the amount of sunlight reaching the park throughout the year. The landscape features a bosque of native trees, open grassy areas and a variety of plantings. Large openings in the park provide access and light to a below-grade concourse level which connects to a network of underground passageways that link the project to the subway and to below grade shops.

Jongno-gu Government Center By Charles Rose Architects - Sheet6
©Charles Rose Architects

The patterning of the building facades is based on the Korean folk tradition of Bojagi or “wrapping cloth.” Here, the patchwork textiles are reinterpreted as joint lines between the stone and glass panels. The exterior of the project is clad in Korean granite. Windows are flush with the cladding, and the glass panels have graduated fritted edges, visually merging with the adjacent stone. The architecture and central space are permeable, open, and accessible to the surrounding neighborhood, and foster the objective of a government that is “open and transparent to its people.”


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