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Exhibition news: Existing City/New Resource, at the KCC

Notice of a summer architecture exhibition at the KCC

Existing City/New Resource

KCCUK, 20 June – 16 July

Kyungsub Shin, Scrutable Landscape Series No. 67, 2016
Kyungsub Shin, Scrutable Landscape Series No. 67, 2016

The Korean Cultural Centre UK (KCCUK) is proud to present an exhibition entitled Existing City / New Resource from 20 June – 16 July 2016 at the KCCUK. The pop-up version of this exhibition, which accompanied the seminar Architecture and the Evolving “Commons”– London and Seoul 2 June in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture and the forthcoming inaugural Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017, SH Corporation, and the British Council, will now expand into a full scale exhibition.

Curated by John Hong, the work focuses on the fine grain social, cultural, and spatial qualities of Seoul – and how the city’s dynamic mix is a rich eco-system that cultivates urban transformation. Specifically these transformations are taking the form of ‘urban recycling,’ where the existing city becomes a new resource for new forms of living. But even as recycling has become a common household phrase, as a society we have only begun to grapple with the concept when applied to the city itself. Terms such as ‘adaptive reuse’ merely point towards a compromised fit of program to an existing building even though the very concept of recycling with its more advanced subsets of ‘upcycling’ and ‘precycling’ are fertile territory for rethinking our cities.

The key difference between recycling materials as opposed to urban fabric lies within the notion of space: In essence, recycling when applied to the city is not about materials but about space. Where the stuff of our everyday life form discrete objects, the existing city is a palimpsest of practices and networks framed by the material itself. In this way, cities such as Seoul have become important testing grounds to demonstrate alternatives to urban erasure. Therefore, the central question that this exhibition poses is: Can our rapidly changing society find a reciprocal host within the diversity of existing urban fabrics so that both city and culture undergo a positive transformation?


Alternative Figures, Future Grounds: A Mapping of Nine Seoul City Projects John Hong, Director of International Studios Seoul Lab/ Professor, Seoul National University

The series of large-scale diagrams show current and future transformations in Seoul in recycling underutilised, infrastructural, and subgrade spaces into alternative public realms. A re-conceptualised figureground technique applies a ‘third term’ to the typically dualistic reading of our cities as public vs. private: Through the use of black as the figure of the buildings, grey as general public space, and white as each project’s area of influence, the mappings reveal how new three-dimensional public and semi-public relationships are generated out of interconnected networks rather than traditional plazas and boulevards.


  • Mapo Petro Tanks: RoA architects + Team Ten
  • Seoul Station 7017: MVRDV
  • Sewoon Modern Vernacular: Es_cape architects
  • Sejong Underground: Terminal 7 architect
  • Community Service Centers
  • Guui Basin Happy Housing, SH Corporation: HAEAHN Architecture, Inc.
  • Modular Housing, SH Corporation: dmp (designcamp moonpark)
  • Malli Cooperative Public Housing for Artists, SH Corporation: EMA architects & associates
  • Container Housing, SH Corporation: UIA architects

Scrutable Landscape Series SH (Study on Habitability)

Kyungsub Shin, artist

Rather than merely documenting the individual form of buildings, Shin’s photographic images reveal the regulatory and social systems from which the city emerges. The Scrutable Landscape Series provides a macro view of the metropolitan regions within and around Seoul and London: The large scale prints make legible the otherwise unreadable urban aggregation, evoking a visceral response from the similarities and differences between the sibling cities. SH (Study and Habitability) takes a similar approach but focuses on underutilized sites within the hyper-density of Seoul, documenting their surreal emptiness the moment before their imminent development. From what is usually understood as the matter-of-fact organisation of the city, Shin’s images constantly vacillate between the analytical and the aesthetic, compelling viewers to engage, interpret, and question the content.


Tapio Snellman, filmmaker, artist, and architectIn this short film simply and existentially titled Seoul, fragments of time, space, and sound become a lens through which one can grasp the megacity of Seoul. Through a heightened instinctual response only available to an outside observer new to the city, Snellman captures glimpses of the quotidian and the extraordinary throughout the duration of a single day. By apprehending their subtle interactions, individuals become protagonists against the backdrop of the historical and ultra-modern urban landscape. In this way, the city becomes discernible as a continuum of events and relationships as well as natural and constructed ecologies.


John Hong is an architect and professor at Seoul National University. His work bridges the scales of architecture and urbanism and converges the mediums of drawings, material, theory, and computation. Prior to establishing his current design lab, Project : Architecture, he was co-founder of the internationally recognised firm SsD. His work has been exhibited at international venues including the 2014/16 Venice Biennales as well as published in Architectural Record, Metropolis Magazine, The New Yorker, and Space Magazine. His built projects have garnered many awards including fifteen American Institute of Architecture (AIA) awards, Architectural Record’s Design Vanguard, and the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League NY. His most notable writings on contemporary architectural culture include the books Convergent Flux: Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism in Korea as co-author (2012) and Fragments of a New Housing Language: Contemporary Urban Housing in Korea (2016). He was Associate Professor in Practice at the Harvard GSD (2007–14) and received his Master’s in Architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a Bachelor’s in Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia.


Kyungsub Shin is a photographer and artist based in Seoul, Korea. He studied photography at Kaywon University of Art & Design, and philosophy at Yonsei University. His work focuses on collecting and producing images that can be encountered by investigating diversity within modern society through the interrelationship between architecture and society. He uses architecture and the city as a point of departure for scrutinising the conditions of hypermodernity registered within rapidly changing environments and the over-exhaustion of the conditions that define modern society. The result is a visual transposition of such phenomena and structures into aesthetic objects. He has exhibited widely, including the 2011 Gwangju Design Biennale and the Golden Lion winning Korean Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Currently, his work is featured in the Korean Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.


Tapio Snellman is a filmmaker, artist and architect engaged in architectural and urban discourse. His work includes film installations, commercial moving image, documentaries, experimental 3D animation and site-specific film projections for museums, theatre, dance and opera. Snellman has engaged in long-term collaborations with other creators such as Herzog & de Meuron, Zaha Hadid, OMA, David Adjaye, Hussein Chalayan and Sasha Waltz on film, animation and performance projects. He gained an MA in Urban Design from the University of Stuttgart and a Diploma in Architecture from the Metropolitan University in London, and currently holds a lecturing position at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. He has previously taught at schools such as the London School of Economics, the Architectural Association in London and the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. Snellman’s films and installations have been exhibited internationally, at venues including the V&A, Tate Modern, Design Museum and The Hayward Gallery in London, the Guggenheim Museum and MoMA in New York and frequently as part of the Architecture Biennale in Venice.


The 2016 London Festival of Architecture (LFA) celebrates London as a global hub of architecture. The theme of the London Festival of Architecture 2016 is “Community”, and the festival aims to connect with as many people as possible to demonstrate architecture’s relevance to London and its diverse communities. The festival programme features exhibitions and events organised by London’s leading architectural, cultural and academic institutions alongside architects, designers, curators and community groups from around the UK.

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