Through the first half of the 20th century, Seoul seemed destined to remain in the shadow of the region's neighboring mega-cities Tokyo and Beijing. Since the late-80s, however, the South Korean capital has thrown its hat into the ring and assertively managed to attract vast amounts of culture and commerce.
Chungha Building Apgujung Road, Gangnam-gu MVRDV, 2013 An existing building from the was remodeled by MVRDV of Rotterdam and re-opened as a flagship store. The distinctive curved ribbon facade gave way to "a sculpture made of various sized windows".
Trade Tower (Korea World Trade Center) 159 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu Nikken Sekkei (with Archiban Architects, Jung Lin Architects), 1988 The Trade Tower is a 54-story office building and part of the Korean World Trade Center. At 228 meters it is one of the tallest buildings in South Korea. In 1984, Nikken Sekkei architects of Japan won the first prize in a design competition for the tower. It resembles two quadro-level towers in mirror image of each other. Photo: Martin Eberle
S-Trenue Tower 26-1 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu MASS Studies, 2009 This L-shaped office tower in Yeouido's financial center has 36 floors, designed as a public podium and three slimmer vertical elements. Two of these hug the central core at different angels. The overall appearance thus is that of a giant chromosome. The spaces between the 'bundled matrix' elements are used as sky gardens. Photo: Martin Eberle
Sun Tower 37-38 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu Thom Mayne/Morphosis, 1997 The Sun Tower, designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis from Los Angeles, stands on two neighboring properties. The two property owners were in dispute. The building is severed vertically down the center to express this duality. From the street, the building appears to be two slender towers with a second skin attached. Photo: Martin Eberle
63-Building (Korea Life Insurance Building) 60 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), 1985 The '63 Building' is one of the most recognizable and thus best known skyscrapers in Seoul. It looks like a gold bar and is nicknamed the 'golden tooth'. Photo: Martin Eberle
Tanheo Memorial Museum 285 Jagok-dong, Gangnam-gu Lee Sung-kwan, HANUL Architects & Engineers, 2008 The Tanheo Memorial Museum was built to commemorate Korean Buddhist monk and theorist Tanheo Sunim. The museum with a summon hall and educational spaces was designed by Lee Sung-kwan and is one of the finest museums in Korea. It was built as a modern piece of architecture which reinterprets traditional temples. Photo: Martin Eberle
Samsung Jongro Tower (Samsung Life Insurance Building) Jongro 2-ga, Jongno-gu Rafael Viñoly / Samoo, 1999 This 33-story office building in Jongno for Samsung Corp. has a height of 132 meters and an unusual shape: The tower, triangular in plan, is composed of three sections: A curved podium, a box-like middle section and a giant hollow cut-out between floors 23 and 30, topped by a big ring-shaped restaurant in the top floor famous for its views. Photo: Martin Eberle
World Peace Gate 426, Olimpik-ro, Bangi-dong, Songpa-gu Kim Joong-up, 1988 The World Peace Gate is located at the west entrance of the Olympic Park. It features an eternal flame with the Seoul Peace Declaration inscribed and was built for the 1988 Olympic Games. It is constructed at the Seonlin Commemoration Park within the Olympic Park as a steel-reinforced concrete structure. With a height of 24 m, it possesses a solemn appearance. Photo: Martin Eberle
Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu Lee Hee-tae, 1967 The Jeoldu-san (or 'beheading mountain') is a rocky promontory overlooking the Han River. It once served as a light house for the ferries on the river. The Martyr's shrine dominates this hill next to Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery and is considered to be Lee Hee-tae's masterpiece. Photo: Martin Eberle
Luce Chapel of Yonsei University 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu Kim Seok-jai, 1974 The Luce Chapel Is the architectural highlight of Yonsei University Campus and was sponsored by the Luce Foundation. The building is used as the headquarters for the Office of Chaplaincy and hosts a sanctuary, prayer room, classrooms, and offices. Most official university ceremonies, worship services and religious meetings are held in this building as well. Photo: Martin Eberle
Kyungdong Presbyterian Church 204 Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu Kim Swoo-geun, 1980 The Kyungdong Presbyterian Church in Jangchung-dong probably is Korea's finest example of modern Church architecture. It is representative of Kim Swoo-geun's third period in the late '70s, in which he was guided by ideas like reconciliation and celebration and is praised as his masterpiece. The church is the built image of ascend - from mundane to holy. Photo: Martin Eberle
Seo Gynecological Clinic (Suh's OB/GYN Practice) 349 Toegye-ro, Jung-gu Kim Joong-up, 1965 Located on a triangular site at the intersection of the Toegye-ro and Eulji-ro, this 4-story fantasy building emphasizes symbolism over function. Architect Kim Joong-up had spent four years in Le Corbusier's studio in France 1952-55. The fluid curves and exposed concrete walls of the Gynecological Clinic are a reminder of that. Photo: Martin Eberle
Seoul Museum of History 2-1 Sinmunno 1 ga, Jongno-gu Kimm Jong-sun, 1998 Seoul was the capital of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty, and the Seoul Museum of History depicts the evolution of the city from its prehistoric period to today. It also contains a giant city model. The building is made of steel and glass is shaped like a large 'U' in plan with a semi-enclosed courtyard in the middle. Photo: Martin Eberle