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A Tour of Seoul’s Streetside Architecture (1): From Seoul Tourism Plaza to Gwanghwamun Square

Published Date : Nov 02, 2021 / Edited Date : Nov 17, 2021
멋길따라 서울 건축여행 / Visit Seoul × ArchiBear

Walk from Seoul Tourism Plaza to Gwanghwamun Square.

Many buildings make up a city, and each one contains its own story. In a way, they serve as a window to a city’s culture and history. As for Seoul, you might be able to better understand the complex yet unique nature of South Korea’s capital by knowing more about its buildings. Now, let’s take a walk through the urban landscapes of Seoul and discover all the amazing buildings out there.

The first stop on our journey is 31 Building, which is home to Seoul Tourism Plaza, a new hub for Seoul tourism. Let’s venture out on our architectural journey, starting from the 31 Building, designed by famed architect, Kim Jung-eup, and wrapping up at the essential tourist hot spot, Gwanghwamun.

Once Stood High as the Tallest in Seoul

#31Building & #SeoulTourismPlaza

The exterior of the 31 Building, which rises high in the center, contrasts with the clear blue sky.
If you walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream, you will see a dark high-rise. That high-rise is none other than the famous 31 Building built in 1970 and designed by famed architect, Kim Jung-eup. It once held a noteworthy title as the “tallest building in Seoul,” while being comprised of an architectural design and later built by the hands of an indigenous Korean crew.

A photo consiting of two images. The left image shows the panoramic view of the 31 Building, and the right image shows the building's underground sunken garden.
The building was designed and constructed following the International Style, a major architectural style popular in Europe and the US in the mid-20th century. The lower part of the building consists of pilotis (spaces created by elevating a building with at least two stories in whole or in part, or a part of the column), while the upper has a proportional pattern, making you feel the structure’s stability and beauty. On top of these architectural and historical features, 31 Building has undergone renovation having incorporated some modern elements. Glass curtain walls (external walls that do not provide support and use light materials like glass or aluminum panels, especially in high-rise buildings) a sunken garden (plazas or gardens located one or two steps lower than the surrounding ground level with an open top to let in sunlight), and staircases on the first and second floors are the most noticeable.
* Pilotis : Spaces created by elevating a building with at least two stories in whole or in part, or a part of the column.

* Curtain Wall : External walls that do not provide support and use light materials like glass or aluminum panels, especially in high-rise buildings.

* Sunken Garden : Plazas or gardens located one or two steps lower than the surrounding ground level with an open top to let in sunlight.
In the front, you can see the Seoul Tourism traveler's cafe on the first floor of the 31 Building. In the middle, there is a large circular media display.
Upon entering the building, you are welcomed by black and white contrast ceilings, metal columns reflecting the interior, and fancy media screens. The exposed and unfinished structure, which juxtaposes a more modern atmosphere in order to retain the remnants of the old 31 Building. The Tourist Café on the first floor is run by Seoul Tourism Plaza, a new tourism hub in Seoul travel occupying up to the 9th floor of 31 Building. You can get a lot of travel information here, so we recommend you to check it out!
  • Seoul Tourism Plaza
  • 85 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jungro-gu, Seoul
  •  
  • #31Building #HighRiseBuilding #FirstGenerationArchitect #ArchitectKimJoongup #InternationalStyle #Proportionality #SeoulTourismPlaza





Uniquely Korean Architecture Displaying Modernism with Tradition

#SejongCenter

A photo taken from the front of the Sejong Center. A sculpture of a head wearing a hat and a central staircase that connects into the building can be seen.
If you walk past 31 Building towards Gwanghwamun Square, you will come across the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, a landmark behind the statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin on Sejong-daero. Having first opened its doors in 1978, the center was designed by architect, Eom Deok-mun, and radiates an oriental and grandiose vibe among the other modern buildings in Gwanghwamun.

The exterior of the Sejong Center can be seen from the front. A unique characteristic of this building is that it combines ship pillars and trees.
It utilizes an architectural technique featuring rows of columns, which makes them feel similar to the wall. The architect thought about how to connect the building with the square while effectively separating them and used rows of columns as a solution. With rows of columns and stairs in the front, the performance and exhibition halls remain separated and quiet from Sejong-daero, the widest, busiest, and most complex road in Seoul. Rows and stairs connect with roads and squares, resolving the heavy and overwhelming feel of the building consisting of huge masses of concrete and materials.

Various parts of the building encapsulate traditional Korean architecture style, including entasis columns (columns usually found in traditional Korean buildings that make the structure more proportionately grandiose with a protruding center) interpreted and applied in a modern way. This style is also represented in traditional Korean patterns made of aluminum cast iron and granite on the exterior.

Check out various cultural performances and exhibitions in Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and enjoy the variety of different spaces all around that capture traditional architectural techniques.
* entasis columns : Columns usually found in traditional Korean buildings that make the structure more proportionately grandiose with a protruding center.
  • Sejong Center
  • 175 Sejong-daero, Jungro-gu, Seoul
  •  
  • #SejongCenter #ArchitectEomDeokMoon #Colonnade #EntasisColumns #GwanghwammunPlaza





Eco-friendly Buildings in Dialogue with History

#NationalMuseumOfKoreanContemporaryHistory

A photo of the exterior of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History located in Gwanghwamun. In front of the building is a large sculpture of a bird sitting on a human hand.
If you walk across the street past the statue of King Sejong the Great from the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, you will encounter the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History where you can explore the history of Korea at a glance. Located on Sejong-daero with many of Korea’s most symbolic places, the museum building is meant to preserve the memories of various Korean historical events, which had occurred in front of Gwanghwamun Square.

Green spaces, benches, and rest areas in front of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History building.
The museum is open from all directions with a focus on connecting the city and the building together, ultimately serving as a bridge that encourages people to enter naturally and connects them with history. It creates green spaces from the plaza connected to the sidewalk to the rooftop garden and makes them available to the public, breathing life into the center of Seoul where green spaces and plazas are disappearing.

What is notable about the façade (the front part of a building with a main entrance that determines the first and overall impression) of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History is that it uses U glass. While U glass has some aesthetic effect as it has soft white light and becomes luminescent at night, it is also eco-friendly as it prevents direct sunlight from entering the interior and solely relies on scattered light to reduce the heating load.
* façade : the front part of a building with a main entrance that determines the first and overall impression
An image of the remodeled and eco-friendly interior of the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History.
The building was once occupied by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. More than 60% of existing structures were recycled and remodeled to minimize waste created during the demolition of the existing building. At the same time, the functioning of the building was enhanced to reduce energy consumption.

A fantastic opportunity awaits you to experience Korea’s past and present in the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, which boldly stands as an architectural structure embodying new values and roles in the implementation of eco-friendly renovation.
  • National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
  • 198 Sejong-daero, Jungro-gu, Seoul
  •  
  • #NationalMuseumOfKoreanContemporaryHistory, #JunglimArchitecture #EcoFriendlyArchitecture #U-Glass #RooftopGarden




Our architectural walking course is here!
A illustration showing the course of this architectural course beginning from Seoul Tourism Plaza to Cheonggyecheon Stream, Gyeongbokgung Palace in front of Gwanghwamun Station on Subway Line 5, Sejong Center on the left, and the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History on the right.

Visit Seoul × ArchiBear

Buildings and architecture form a city, and cities come together to form a country. And that’s why architecture reflects the history and culture of a city as a component of the city. Seoul X Archibear’s A Tour of Seoul’s Streetside Architecture was designed to provide a fresh perspective on the city by sharing the anecdotes of architectural culture while traveling around South Korea’s capital.

Well-built and distinctive architecture can serve as a piece of art carved in our city. And in Seoul, which is rich with diverse history and characteristics, there are beautiful buildings that are worth paying a visit. We hope that this special series helps promote Seoul as an ideal travel destination and invite everyone to experience the hidden architectural beauty in Seoul’s everyday life.

A Tour of Seoul’s Streetside Architecture series was produced by Visit Seoul in collaboration with ArchiBear, a brand created by the architectural culture and travel content company, Haas Studio.

Curious to get more information on architectural tourism in Seoul?
Tags

#SejongCenter #SeoulCityWalk #Gwanghwamun #GwanghwamunSquare #SeoulTourismPlaza #NationalMuseumOfContemporaryHistory #HAASStudio #VisitSeoulXArchiBear # ArchitectureTour #ATourOfSeoul’sStreetsideArchitecture

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Read before Reservation
  • Reservations must be made at least three days prior to the tour date.
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Read before Reservation
  • Reservation shall be made at least 1 week before the tour day.
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予約前の案内事項
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  • 解説を進行する時に発生する安全事故に対し、徒歩観光事務局とソウル文化観光解説士は
    責任を負いません。
  • PM 2.5(ピーエムにてんご)の非常低減措置発令及びその他の気象悪化(猛暑、台風、暴雨など)によって
      徒歩観光の運営が困難な場合、すべての予約は一括キャンセルされます。
     (観光日前日基準)
预约前说明事项
  • 观光日基准最少3日前方可进行预约。
  • 最多可以预约5个人。
  • 在已登记的预约团体中,只接待不超过预约人数的团体,可在前一天17时前追加预约。
  • 下个月的预约可从前一月15日开始。
  • 参加徒步观光解说活动时必须佩戴口罩。
  • 如有发热或呼吸道症状(发烧、咳嗽、痰液、肌肉痛、鼻塞、咽喉痛等),请避免参与解说活动。
  • 活动开始前将进行体温测试,超过37.5度者将被限制参与解说活动。
  • 无保护者随同的未满14岁儿童游客,会在现场取消解说活动。
  • 因发布微尘紧急低减措施及其他气象恶化(暴热、台风、暴雨等)无法运营徒步观光解说活动时,所有预约会批量取消。(观光前日基准)
  • 对于解说活动中发生的安全事故,首尔徒步解说旅游事务局和首尔文化观光解说社不予负责。
预约前说明事项
  • 观光日基准最少1日前方可进行预约。
  • 本线路是为了行动不便者(行动不便的高龄者、残疾人、婴儿车利用者等)的路线。
  • 无辅助人员(或同行人)伴随时,不可利用。
    ※ 步行不便者1名至少需要1名以上的辅助人员陪同。
    ※ 电动辅助器具(电动轮椅、电动独轮车等)使用者时,每一位辅助人员最多可陪同 4名步行不便者。
  • 希望观光的日期及线路上无解说员时,预约有可能被取消。
  • 为了确认预约,徒步观光事务局(02-6925-0777)会致电进行确认。
    (最少5日~一个月前) 3次以上无法连接时,预约将被取消。
  • 进行解说时,对于有可能发生的安全事故,徒步观光事务局和首尔文化观光解说员概不负责。
  • 因发布微尘紧急低减措施及其他气象恶化(暴热、台风、暴雨等),无法运营 徒步观光时,所有预约会批量取消。
    (观光前日基准)
預約前說明事項
  • 最晚請於預約日期3天前完成預約。
  • 最多可以预约5个人。
  • 已完成預約的團體若人數超過限制,可於前一天下午5點前追加預約。
  • 每月15日將開放下個月的預約。
  • 參與解說觀光時請務必佩戴口罩。
  • 若有發燒或呼吸道症狀(發燒、咳嗽、咳痰、肌肉酸痛、鼻塞、喉嚨痛),請避免參與本活動。
  • 活動開始前將進行體溫測量。若體溫超過37.5度,將無法參與本活動。
  • 未有保護者同行的未滿14歲兒童遊客,會在現場取消參與資格。
  • 因發布微塵緊急降低措施及其他天氣惡化(暴熱、台風、豪雨等),無法進行徒步觀光時,所有預約將取消。(預約日期前日基準)
  • 進行解說時,對於有可能發生的安全事故,首爾徒步解說觀光事務局和首爾文化觀光解說員概不負責。
預約前說明事項
  • 觀光日基準最少1日前方可進行預約。
  • 本線路是為了行動不便者(行動不便的高齡者、殘疾人、嬰兒車利用者等)的路線。
  • 無輔助人員(或同行人)伴隨時,不可利用。
    ※ 步行不便者1名至少需要1名以上的輔助人員陪同。
    ※ 電動輔助器具(電動輪椅、電動獨輪車等)使用者時,每壹位輔助人員最多可陪同 4名步行不便者。
  • 希望觀光的日期及線路上無解說員時,預約有可能被取消。
  • 為了確認預約,徒步觀光事務局(02-6925-0777)會致電進行確認。
    (最少5日~壹個月前) 3次以上無法連接時,預約將被取消。
  • 進行解說時,對於有可能發生的安全事故,徒步觀光事務局和首爾文化觀光 解說員概不負責。
  • 因發布微塵緊急低減措施及其他氣象惡化(暴熱、臺風、暴雨等),無法運營 徒步觀光時,所有預約會批量取消。 (觀光前日基準)