21st Century City / Looking High and Deep into Seoul


21st Century City

The city undergoes various and multi-layered changes according to the changes of the times. There is a new type of space culture and type, such as traffic cards, Wi-Fi buildings, and shared offices, as well as physical changes such as skyscrapers, bicycle roads, parks with themes, and apartments that have been converted from factories. Urban space is constantly changing the landscape of our city through the change, growth, transformation and development of the city based on the technology, economic and political development of the time. Through the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, we can have an opportunity to think about many questions in today's city. Although science and technology are evolving, cities are becoming more vulnerable to environmental changes, and global capitalism and consumerism resulting from globalization are destroying our public space by privatizing it. This lecture will share the story of the cities around the world facing the problems of the 21st century city.


Looking high and deep into Seoul

How deep and high is Seoul? Why does Seoul'sland inhabited and utilized by the citizens of Seoul have this shape and for what purpose is it being shared? This lecture is the process of finding answers to these series of questions. When we perceive urban space, we tend to start from considering Seoul as a flat land in the mind map. But is this understanding still valid for understanding cities with varying heights, such as Seoul? Seoul has long started from the flatland in the historic city, but it has incorporated various surrounding mountainous areas into the urban expansion zone of industrialization, and has developed various high altitudes through the development of massive basements and roads. In short, is Seoul a flatland or mountain? Is high land in Gangnam high in Jongno? How many floors does the underpass I walk right now have? Is the underground at this height a public space or a private space? Is this high road now a street for cars or a residential place? Why is there a village in Seoul's fortress located on a high mountain? Even these simple questions are not easy to answer, and many stories are hidden in them.It is easy to overlook the height of the city because we are so used to it. Even in comparison with other cities in the world, Seoul's diversified and dynamic ground heights are very unique and it is not easy to find the cities with such varying ground heights. The attempt to understand Seoul based on its high altitude will be a useful tool for finding another identity and social meaning of Seoul. This lecture classifies the four strata of Seoul - underground, ground, elevated land, and mountain–and, based on such classification, it will look into the changing history of the city, the publicness of life in it, and the meaning of sharing that can be used in the present state of Seoul

Helen Hejung Choi

Since 2010, Helen Hejung Choi has been an assistant professor of architecture at Kookmin University. After studying architecture at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Columbia Graduate School and working in New York for six years, Helen Hejung Choi moved to Seoul, Korea and started to work on architecture projects and workas a professor. She was a curator of the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale and responsible for researching, planning and exhibiting architecture collections of the Culture Information Service at Gwangju Asia Culture Center and is now curator for Cities Exhibition  at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism.

Sora Kim

Sora Kim is a public architect of Seoul and is professor of architecture at the University of Seoul. Her major works include the remodeling of the Hwigyeong-dong Children's Library and the Giriwool Daycare Center and she runs the Institute of Space Design Strategy.