SNU - Frontline
The concept of monumentality in contemporary architectural terms is a tricky question. Who or to what power structure does this monument belong? How does the programmatic function align with its symbolic intent? Can the social content of the monument shift or does it remain aligned to a single power structure? We have intentionally juxtaposed the concept of lightness and monumentality to put the terms of monumentality into question. We all know that monumentality signifies a certain gravity, a staid materiality, a relationship to particular ideologies. However lightness conveys a different conceptual and contemporary stream: it could literally mean the phenomenological qualities of natural light, lightness of ecological and energy footprints, lightness of contemporary tectonics that can no longer rely upon unlimited human labor, and lightness in terms of the speed of construction required by modern urbanization.
The Korean context is especially of a significant backdrop to address these current issues of monumentality. With the creation of new towns and satellite cities, each of these territories must compete for identity. Architecture then plays a central role as it communicates the larger agendas of these new urban entities. It is instrumental in communicating the aspirations and the ideas of a larger public sphere. At the same time it must also be flexible in the context of a quickly transforming society and culture. It is here where we must distinguish ourselves between talking about “branding” vs. civic architecture. Branding allies itself with structures of commerce which links itself to the idea of public through the narrow channels of creating capital. Meanwhile the idea of monumentality allies itself with a larger notion of publicity and it makes historical links to the legacy of governing bodies, influential individuals, community structures, and urban typologies whether they be agencies of positive social evolution or negative structures of oppression.
Our site will be in a peripheral and emerging territory of Seoul. Its program (to be determined) and form will challenge and instigate current notions of monumentality through the term of lightness attempting to grapple with issues of urban iconography, identity, public spheres, fabrics, histories, ideologies with contemporary issues of sustainability, phenomenology, tectonics, societal change, media, and radically mixed program. The thesis about the idea of monumentality should be constantly present in the work and can include modes of irony, criticism, historicism, utopianism, etc.