The new headquarters for Amorepacific, a large Korean cosmetics company, are situated in the centre of Seoul. In immediate proximity lies a former US military zone that will be transformed into the spacious new public Yongsan Park and an International Business District presenting the largest high-rise development in Korea, thus substantially altering the urban fabric of the area. Hangangro Avenue, a historically significant street that remains one of Seoul’s main infrastructural axes, borders the north-west side of the new building.
The primary aim for the project was to create a building with a distinct identity within a highly diverse urban context. Focusing on a single, clear volume, the massing of the building avoids any iconographic similarities with neighbouring high-rise buildings. The proportions of the volume have been carefully developed around a central courtyard to maximise the effectiveness of natural ventilation and daylight for each floor. A central atrium provides an intimate space at the lower levels.
A raised stone plinth, mediating the existing topography, supports the idea of an open platform at ground-floor level. Thus all entrances are united and generate a public place of arrival, which connects the Headquarters with the nearby new Yongsan City quarters and the park. Three large openings in the building volume provide dramatic views over the city and the mountains in the distance. Elevated gardens within these openings bring nature into the building. Simultaneously, they introduce a human sense of scale but also establish a relationship to areas far beyond the location of the building.
The abstract expression of the façade is mainly provided through a second skin of fixed and differently sized aluminium fins in front of full-height glass panes acting as brise-soleil. Through subtle changes and random positioning of the fins, the building assumes varying qualities of lightness and heaviness, texture and surface. The interplay between architectural elements creates a unique character, holding the building’s inherent dialectic properties of object and composed space, private and public, tradition and modernity.
In-situ concrete, glass and natural stone can be found in all the public spaces of the building. The public functions include a museum, conference area, large auditorium, restaurants and retail facilities, and are located on the lower levels around the atrium lobby, while non-public functions, such as office and staff facilities, are located on the floors above. Each of these areas is connected to one of the three large openings, allowing the elevated gardens to become a recreation zone for staff.