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비상계단 Emergency Stairs @Guro

Posted: July 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: architecture, project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Recently I moved into a factory called Seoul Art Space_Geumcheon (they call it 금천예술공장 in Korean, literally translated as Geumcheon Art Factory). It is an artist residency program located in Guro area – an aggregation of factories for heavy industries, which was part of the governmental urban planning during the 70′s. In the light of the IT industry, they started to call the Guro Industrial Complex to Guro Digital Complex and many visible shifts of the landscape began to ensue e.g. new skyscrapers, shopping malls, etc. Regardless of the struggles to refresh the atmosphere of the region by renaming it, reshaping it and even reprograming it in the name of Arts (like my residency space), the area doesn’t seem to easily get away from the impression of the Industrial region with poor factory workers.

There is an interesting anecdote I came across in the Postcapital lecture series at Total Museum, that this area had a very close relationship with rice price during the 70′s. Under the Park Chung-hee administration, the government hold the price of rice in order to shift the country’s major investment from the agriculture to Fordist industry. This led many farmers in bankruptcy, thus they naturally moved to Seoul especially to Guro to find a job in the newly opened factories. The unchanging rice price gave them a downside of losing their farms in the countryside, but also gave them an upside of surviving with the low wage they were getting from the factories. Some says that the government captured two rabbits – a Korean expression that means to say, in this perticular context, that they succeeded in both industrial shift and procuring the labour force who could work with unreasonable remuneration.

So here they are, some backdrop stories for one of projects that I’m working on at the moment in relation to the place that I became a resident of. While wandering around the area for site research, i remarked an architectural form that frequently captured my eyes – 비상계단 Emergency Stairs in the factories.

I was interested in its raison d’etre as a liminal space in between what is practically used and what is originally designed for, existing as a state of emergency that has yet to occur. Not to mention the fact that it is a space designed for vertical movements, I am intrigued by its calm representation of the probability of such actions. As I speculate further upon its brutalist aesthetics e.g. blunt concrete forms, parasite metal structure, ad hoc patches, etc. that is prevailed around the Guro factory buildings, I started to draw a scenario that led this kind of spacial adaptation in relation to the economic needs of the era. It might be a mimicry of Japanese architecture of the time that had conspicuous external stairs – I could still observe so many cases in Japan, that even led me to conceive a project about it in Tokyo. As Japanese heavy industry made great influence when developing the one in Korea during the 70′s, perhaps they followed similar paths in constructing infrastructure i.e. architectural condition that inhabited the dynamic of such business. Although it had left rather a low-fi version of what they mirrored.

The external stairs started to hide inside the surface of buildings by the early 90′s. Thus the ones with external stairs also represent the state of building that is waiting for its death. Probably most of them are out in real estate auction.

This is work in progress, aiming at a rich taxonomy of architectural relics.

[project team] Part Time Suite

Posted: March 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: project | No Comments »

Part-time Suite started its project in 2009, first by looking for places in the city.
We go through places actually affordable to us, and then rent for a short period the place we have found. Not owning the place, we have physical and practical restrictions which we amplify and convert into lyrical features of our work. In order to escape from the restriction, for the three past projects – at a basement, a vacant lot and a roof top – we simply accepted all the restrictions (in Under Interior), let them be as we took a loophole (in off-off-stage) or stood on them, threw a question pointed toward the destiny of the collective itself (in Loop the Loop). Through those kinds of processes we turn the spatiality of the place into something sensuous and tangible, stimulating the place to reveal by itself its identity which has been neglected. The audience who has decided to enter – by taking off his/her shoes, by blocking outside sounds to make his/her hearing acute – will witness by senses, rather than speculate, the place’s raison d’être and remember he/she can come across the place once and again, anytime in the city.

Part-time Suite, collaboration group of Miyeon Lee, Byungjae Lee and Jaeyoung Park who graduated Art school in February. 2009, was founded on April 2009 and based in Seoul, Korea. It undertook three projects, “Under Interior” in a basement at Chungjeongro in June, “off-off-stage” at an unoccupied lot in the center of the city, Shinmunro, in September and “Loop the Loop” at a roof-top at Yeonjidong in December, all under the sponsorship of Art Council Korea, issued 2009. The last project was a part of the exhibition “Perspective Strikes Back” presented by Hyunjin Kim at Doosan Art Center. The group is bound together on mutual trust between the members while accepting each other’s singularity and individuality. Our works develop during and from frequent meeting and talk session. Each member is also working on his/her own projects.

Updated in Mar/2010

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