A chance for Korean architecture to shine

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A chance for Korean architecture to shine


Lee Sang-rim

Last week’s 24th World Congress of Architecture in Tokyo ended with good news for Korea, with the announcement that the international forum would be held in Seoul in 2017.

Attracting 10,000 architects, engineers, researchers and students annually, the World Congress allows participants to discuss future architecture and cities through the various programs.

“That our architectural culture is on par with the rest of the world is a cultural revolution,” said Kim Jong-sung, chairman of the bidding committee.

Lee Sang-rim, from the Federation of Institutes of Korean Architects (FIKA), headed the bidding committee. The following are excerpts from an interview with Lee.

Q. Why is the 2017 World Congress of Architecture important?

A. It is a gathering of many prestigious architects. It is an effective chance to introduce Korean architecture to overseas nations and to experience new trends in architecture. It’s difficult to admit but awareness of Korean architecture in the world is low.

Now is the time for Korea to take the lead in architecture.

We hear the 2017 forum will be all about the attractions.

We failed twice in our bid to host the Congress, and if we had failed again this year, our next chance would have been around 2030. We knew we couldn’t miss this chance.

What do you mean?

Korea is opening its eyes to architecture. During our country’s industrialization, general and effective construction was emphasized and is all we know, but the cultural side of architecture has never been clearly acknowledged by our society.

But these days, perspectives on architecture are changing. Korea is at an important turning point.

How have you been preparing?

The city of Seoul and FIKA recently signed a memorandum of understanding last year and have been preparing for the forum together. We even had the cooperation of overseas embassies.

Of course, we had a lot of help from architects in international networks, but the contributions from the chairman of the bidding committee, Kim Jong-sung, were the biggest. He was thorough in the video presentation and put a lot of work into the presentation itself.

How will you prepare for the WCA?

All architecture-related organizations in Korea put our heads together to discuss the possibilities and strengths of Korean architecture, and we came up with a plan on how to do this. Through these preparation meetings, it has been a happy opportunity to see the unity in architectural thought. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and the next six years will open new doors for Korean architecture.

By Lee Eun-ju [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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