Sewoon Sangga (1966-1976) / 14. Proposal V.S. Reality
After the construction of Sewoon Sangga, it had once been a source of pride for Seoul citizens. However, before long, problems caused by the deviation between the proposal and the reality started to emerge. According to the article written by the architects Kim, Suk Chul and Yoon, Seung Joong published in Architecture magazine’s July 1994 issue, even though the urban design team worked on the concept design of Sewoon Sangga, the responsibilities of its design development and construction documentation work should be transferred to the architectural design team in KECC. In the latter part of the design development process, the initial design concept had been significantly revised without sufficient mutual discussion. Hence, even though the architects dreamt of an idealist urban center, with ranges of activities and facilities – a self-sustained city, the actual development was not fully built in the manner that they initially designed. And the following are some of the essential ideas that the architects on the urban design team originally proposed but without realization as intended.
- Elevated pedestrian deck
One of the important concepts for Sewoon Sangga was to provide an elevated pedestrian deck on the third level. However, in reality, it turned out to be a failure. The main idea proposed here was to create 1km-long elevated pedestrian shopping mall that would be vertically connected to the existing commercial streets such as Jongro, Euljiro, Inhyunro, and Choongmuro. However, this elevated deck was not built as one long pedestrian promenade and there was no connection between each block in the development. Instead, the deck started from Hyundai Sangga with two lanes, merged into one lane at the intersection with Euljiro, became two lanes again as it passed Euljiro again. In addition, with the lack of construction funds, the high-quality pedestrian environment with paving and landscaping was never realized. As a result, the elevated deck could neither attract pedestrian no become a popular shopping mall.
For the apartment levels above the ‘elevated land’, the installation of an atrium was suggested. The atrium was meant to enhance the residents’ quality of living conditions by providing sunlight and a natural ventilation system. Each building block was designed to have setbacks as the level goes up. By designing the stepped building form with an atrium in the middle, the architects intended to alleviate the overpowering building scale and to increase the spatial and psychological depth of the building. However, this idea was significantly altered during construction.
- Ground level traffic and parking
Architects in the KECC did not believe that reserving ground level for through traffic, or parking spaces, was a universal solution. However, in Sewoon Sangga project, they proposed the idea of ground level traffic and parking. The main purpose of this suggestion was that it could improve accessibility and public amenities of Sewoon Sangga which they intended to make a hub to stimulate the economy of the adjacent areas. Second, by separating traffic, they planned to maximize the value of elevated pedestrian promenade as commercial area. However, in the 1960s, parking was not a serious issue as it is now, and the idea was not persuasive enough to make the investors yield the ground level, a prime retail area.
Yoon. Seung Joong. Ibid. 1997.
Yoon. Seun Joong. 1994. Sewoon Sangga Story. Architecture: A Special Edition for Mixed-Use Architecture. 1994.
Yoon. Seung Joong. Architecture in Urbanism. Gan Huang Media. 1997