Short interview about Parametric design and DDP in Seoul

APRIL 2014
Space Magazine article about DDP in Seoul
What significance does parametricism and the DDP which was designed under parametricism have as a new design methodology entering the Korean architectural arena. (Please refer to the text by Patrik Schumacher from the 2013 August issue before answering)
Building and the Design Methodology have to be assessed independently;
I see Parametric Design as a tool and not, as Mr. Patrick Schumacher maintains, a 21sthas to be assessed separately from its generative tools; the building has to stand its ground without being justified or artificially supported by premeditated generative propaganda.
For far too long, the Parametric Architecture has fallen into a niche market, where a critical assessment was restricted only to the people who could generate it. To this point I do not believe parametric design enters the Korean architectural world for the first time via the DDP. Parametricism entered Korea by the very “Network Society” Mr. Schumacher highlights in his Manifesto, one has only to witness your very journal to be aware of this phenomena.
My skepticism towards the parametric system, concerns the implications the system has on the role of the Architect as lead Designer. In a system where software (from Maya to Digital Projects) generates infinite iterations, the architect seems to have been marginalized to the role of “style” consultant, employed to select the right iteration. Furthermore how many architects actually control the methodology rather than leave it in the hands of software engineers?
Please succinctly describe what you believe to be the architectural significance and limitations of the DDP in 1~2 sentences.
The significance of the DDP is undoubtedly its execution. I have witnessed firsthand many Hadid’s projects, and the DDP is one of the better executed projects; compared to the construction work of the Guangzhou Opera House, this building is a huge leap forward. The paneling construction system, where every panel is unique is undoubtedly a milestone achievement in the industry.
On the other hand, the limitations of the project concern its integration into the urban fabric of the city, or more specifically into the complexity of Dongdaemun area. Every time I visit the building whether on foot or by car, I suffer from a severe case of “Urban Indigestion”, where the building appears as if it has not been fully digested by its “urban” body.
I am not here advocating for a hyper contextual response, rather I am referring to the building being able to react to the “Existing Complexities” that Mr. Schumacher refers to, that to my mind seem forgotten. One has to ask what parts of the design responds to its context (The historical East gate, The heritage wall, the demolished stadium, the medieval structure of adjacent alleys, etc…) rather than responding to a parametric agenda?
As of yet, the main area of the DDP is only planned to be used for exhibitions and renting out for shopping malls. What would you propose as an appropriate program and architecture system for this main area?
I think the fact that you ask this question is symptomatic of the problems facing the building’s future and prevent it from becoming Seoul’s White Elephant.
Possible suggestions would have to focus on keeping the building active 24 hours/day. It seems the obvious potential programme would relate to the vibrant fashion industry, where the building could become an active cultural centre rather than passive. Examples include the Pompidou Centre in Paris which houses one of the city’s biggest public libraries.
Another programme which could become a political strategy for the upcoming Seoul Mayor elections is to revert the building to Seoul’s youth, dismantling the “high culture” system that seems to be currently the only option on the table and revert to a “soft culture” building, where spaces are given to young artists, musicians to develop free of rent. Seoul has an abundance of young creative people fighting to survive, it is time to help them.
CUHK M1-2015
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