'Shifting constellations' for Seoul skyline

Thursday 24 Apr 2014

Glittering makeover planned for Hanwha HQ in Seoul by Ben van Berkel / UNStudio

A competition to redesign an existing office block in the South Korean city of Seoul has been won by UNStudio. The current headquarters of environmental technology providers Hanwha is a looming 57,696 sq m block with horizontal bands of opaque panelling and single layers of glass. The redevelopment by UNStudio will see these strips of glass replaced with a transparent alternative to drive large quantities of light into the commercial tower.

The concept responds to the requirements of the brief, which requested that the design be ‘guided by the surroundings, influenced by nature and driven by the environment’. As such, UNStudio’s concept incorporates a responsive façade system which has a dramatic effect on the interior climate in an effort to enhance the creativity and concentration of employees.

Ben van Berkel, Co-Founder of UNStudio, explains: “By means of a reductive, integrated gesture, the façade design for the Hanwha HQ implements fully inclusive systems which significantly impact the interior climate of the building, improve user comfort and ensure high levels of sustainability and affordability. Through fully integrated design strategies today’s facades can provide responsive and performative envelopes that both contextually and conceptually react to their local surroundings, whilst simultaneously determining interior conditions.”

The façade will come to life when darkness falls as individual LED pixels burst into a colourful display. Designed to fall in line with the overall Hanwha branding strategy, the pattern of the pixelated lighting system references nature, data processing and energy forms. Shading also plays a key role in the organisation of the new façade. The glazing is angled away from direct sunlight to reduce direct solar impact through choreographed shading, while PV panels are placed on the opaque panes of the south and southeast façades.

van Berkel concludes: “The design for the Hanwha HQ media facade aims to avoid an overstated impact. In the evenings, as the mass of the building becomes less apparent, the facade lighting integrates with the night sky, displaying gently shifting constellations of light.”

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South Korea

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