ArchiWorkshop

Welcome and Illusion

- Seoul - Korea

‘Welcome and Illusion’ is an art project by ArchiWorkshop recording the shift of a design studio to a demolition village. The selected house for this project is located at 12-27 Ba-gil, 11, Bukahyeon-ro, Seoul, Korea, and will have vanished in early July 2016. Before its complete vanishing, its life will be extended for 20 days by architects, installation artists and musicians.  Hee-Jun Sim and Su-Jeong Park from ArchiWorkshop decorated the house just like shrouding, while Changhoon Lee visualized the connection between the house and the community in various media, and June Kim gathered the various surrounding sounds. On the first day of the exhibition, violinist Hye-Sun Sim and cellist Hye-Won Sim played a musical piece written by Martinu in Paris, 1927.  This was a ‘funeral for a house’ collaborated by architecture, installation art, and music. This was an enjoyable ‘gut-pan’ (shaman practice) where we may read the present from the past and experiment the future.

The membrane material used for the internal space work was re-created into eco bags and distributed to people.

Historiography of the Land and Life

It was early summer when I visited the site of ArchiWorkshop’s art project “Welcome and Illusion”.  I stopped at Ahyeon-dong Wedding Town station and climbed up a steep neighborhood under the blistering sun.  As I crossed the hills, cracked housings were revealed.  All the windows had been removed from the frame. There was no sign of people; only silence.

The site was an old two-storey house under a persimmon tree where cracked concrete, bricks, and bushes could be seen through the torn windows.  The lack of sound from cars and people created a sense of desolation  I thought it was a wise choice by the two architects on their decision to work with a sound artist for this project.

It is what we have easily witnessed for last decades.  From 1970s to early 2010s, approximately 40.8km2 of landscape has been changed under the name of housing redevelopment or reconstruction.  Also, as of November 2011, approximately 61.6km2 of Land has been used for New Town Development.  If Korea had not suffer the economic crisis in 2008, even more land would be in a similar situation.  However, besides few photos of ground-breaking ceremony and some statistics, it is unfortunate that finding any records on such changes is very difficult.

It is the historian’s responsibility to record the past faithfully and judge its value and meaning.  However, to record neutrally and objectively may be possible only in a theory.  It can be easily modified or beautified for their interest.  Recorders have a tremendous power, and it is why debates on history are inevitable.  Recordings must be numerous and diverse.  It should be deeper and abundant so that the next generation can evaluate and judge.

Recording is a public work but also a very private act at the same time.  Even if we use the same camera, each result will differ from each other as we are all individuals who see differently.  Scenes from movies or dramas may not be a recording but it is rather a reinterpretation or reconstruction.  For artists, recording is a heuristic tool to dive much more deeply into the present and to find something new.

‘Welcome and Illusion’ is an art project by ArchiWorkshop recording a shift of a design studio to a demolition village. The selected house for this project is located at 12-27 Ba-gil, 11, Bukahyeon-ro, Seoul, Korea, and will have vanished in early July 2016. Before its complete vanishing, its life will be extended for 20 days by architects, installation artists and musicians.  Hee-Jun Sim and Su-Jeong Park from ArchiWorkshop decorated the house just like shrouding while Changhoon Lee visualized the connection between the house and the community in various media, and June Kim gathered the various surrounding sounds. On the first day of this exhibition, violinist Hye-Sun Sim and cellist Hye-Won Sim played a musical piece written by Martinu in Paris, 1927.  This was a ‘funeral for a house’ collaborated by architecture, installation art, and music.

I came to know Hee-Jun and Su-Jeong through ’10 by 200’ program organized by Korea Architects Institute in 2014.  I read the special edition on this program and was impressed by their frank and fervent attitude to searching for their own words and path in a harsh architectural ecosystem.  In 2016, I revisited their work while I was planning the Korean Pavilion for Venice Biennale under the concept of “The Far Game: Constraints Sparking Creativity”.  The floor space index has been a momentum of “Construction Korea” in last 50 years.  I named “White Cube Mangwoo” by ArchiWorkshop as one of 36 representative exhibitions.

The Mangwoo-dong area in Jungnang-gu, Seoul is a dense housing complex.  As the redevelopment area was released, many multifamily housing, so-called Villa, have been built, but the need for improvement and regeneration is now raised.  I believe that ArchiWorkshop’s “White Cube Mangwoo” is a good example which shows a change of perspective from an issue of volume to the quality.  Their description on the project is rather practical, tangible and simple as they explain about privacy, lighting, balconies, and parking lots.  There is no exaggerated rhetoric.  This is because the nourishment of their works is something tangible that we face in our everyday life.  They once said, “how to see everyday life of Koreans helps us to come up with such a creative work”, and their philosophy is well summoned by their quote.

It may sound too common, but their works and path have been so broad down to architecture, landscape, installation, renovation, exhibition, etc.  They have participated in various projects including housing, commercial buildings, leisure place, and so on.  One of the most well known brands by ArchiWorkshop is ‘Glamping ArchiGlam’.  It is a masterpiece that puts the potential needs of the public in a gorgeous space – geometrically and constructively.

I believe that “Welcome and Illusion” is not a romantic recollection of the past.  Instead, it would be a reading of the present through the past and studying of the future.  ArchiWorkshop would explore a new urban architecture in Korea through their own unique experiment with flexibility and joy.

Collaboration: June Kin (Art)Chang-Hoon Lee (Art), Hye-Sun Sim (Violin), Hye-Won Sim (Cello)

Welcome and Illusion

Art project, Completed in 2016

​Collaboration Art Project sponsored by Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture in 2016

Project Description

Site location             Seoul, Korea
Design office             ArchiWorkshop
Head designers                   Hee-Jun Sim, Su-Jeong Park
Artist                      Chang-Hoon Lee, Joon Kim
Web address            www.archiworkshop.kr
Email address            office@archiworkshop.kr
Material                  Membrane (Serge Ferrari)
Photographer           Nam-Sun Lee

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