SEOUL – Space in central Seoul is scarce and new buildings have a tendency to compete for attention, while simultaneously reaching greater height and blocking out any views. The newest office building by the outfit Wise Architecture gives its users much needed breathing space and culminates in a viewing terrace overlooking the city's Sunjung-Reung park.

'The building can be regarded as an architectural mountain and the roof terrace as the summit,' say the architects, who won South Korea's 2011 Young Architect Prize. An external stairway – separated from the street by a perforated screen of black bricks – snakes its way to the top, providing access to large, communal terraces along the way. A small, internalised patio provides access to the roof terrace with sweeping views over the city.

The resulting 'blocky pyramid' exudes deliberate restraint. 'Simplicity is a very important principle when building a structure. It helps us maintain consistency: making various options with given conditions and thinking, discarding and remaking them in the process. It is similar to the values of Oriental moderation which pursues life as a balanced condition without excess or deficiency,' the architects conclude.

Photos Chin Hyo Sook