Morphosis gets under the skin of Seoul HQ


Inventive architects like their facades to work hard. Not only must they protect the building, but they must also say something enlightening about whatever’s going on inside and the environs.

Amanda Levete’s firm AL_A taught us that last year with the 3D ceramic tiles covering Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology – high-tec like the building’s contents, and a nod to Portugal’s tile tradition. Now the kings of the conceptual, Morphosis, have applied this approach to a South Korean HQ.

Kolon Industries manufacturers all kinds of things, from textiles and chemicals to sportswear. So Thom Mayne’s LA team created a brise-soleil system on the west face the building. “The façade units have been parametrically shaped to balance shading and views, and are made from … a formulation that uses one of Kolon’s own high-tech fabrics, Aramid, to dramatically increase the material’s tensile strength,” they explain.

When Kolon Future Research Park completes next year, the 3D latticing effect will be a high-tech landmark for this newly-developed area. Because the Seoul Metropolitan Government is keen to promote the Magok district in South-eastern Seoul’s Han River area as an emerging hub for technology and light industry. The hope is that tech and information businesses will “co-locate to spawn new intersecting markets”, says Morphosis, making Kolon a pioneer.

The building sits on a four-acre site near the park, and as well as the multi-purpose façade will boast a 30m-tall, 100m-long multi-storey atrium, three laboratory wings.

45-year-old Morphosis is known for its grand gestures, like the 2012 Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. And later this year, it is due to add to that list with the completion of its glass and steel Hanking Centre Tower in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.