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Reed Instrument: Roof Sentiment in Korea by Society of Architecture

AR_EA 2016 Finalist: A graceful pavilion elicits glimpses of both the local surroundings and South Korea’s cultural history

In traditional Korean architecture, the roof is the outstanding feature of any building so it is fitting that this pavilion is in the middle of the historic area of Seoul, where numerous roofs – most famously that of Gyeongbokgung Palace – are the dominant urban feature. Indeed, Roof Sentiment, located in the courtyard of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, is a glorious celebration of a roof. Comprising one huge flexible reed blind, with a sinuous shape, it is supported by tall pillars at the highest points so that some parts of the structure are able to move freely in the wind. 

The architects are Kang Yerin, Lee Chihoon and Lee Jaewon, the three partners who make up Society of Architecture, and this project is the one of which they are most proud to date – ‘because the process of realisation was so challenging’, they say. In fact, at first, they were concerned about whether the design could even be built: ‘we studied many characteristics of various materials and invented the detail.’ 

Roof sentiment drawings

Roof sentiment drawings

The traditional style of Korean architecture is called hanok, in which roofs are often characterised by their great height and size, and open underneath, allowing users to experience fresh air and shade. Roof Sentiment references this tradition – underneath the structure are grass mounds for visitors to explore and reed chairs on which they can perch. Circular cut-outs reveal views of the local environment – scenes that continually shift as the breeze causes the reed blinds to gently sway back and forth. 

Society of Architecture focuses on ‘architecture, urbanism and landscape designs based on the critical analysis of culture in complicated circumstances, in which local and global demands conflict’. The architects consider research to be the most important stage in their design process and, although they use both digital 3D modelling and physical models to develop an idea, ‘we think that the physical model is still the best tool for architecture’.

As for Roof Sentiment: ‘It awakens people to the summertime and their surroundings.’ Certainly, one cannot deny that there is joy here.

Roof Sentiment

Architects: Society of Architecture (SoA):  Kang Yerin, Lee Chihoon, Lee Jaewon

Project team: Kang Yerin, Lee Chihoon, Lee Jaewon, Kang Sungwhan, Kang Hyewon, Park Sulgi, Han Seung-yeon, Kim Gunhee

Landscape design: Choi Young Joon, Huicheng Zhong (Laboratory DH)

Photographs: Kyungsub Shin