DONGDAEMUN – The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) – an innovative way of working which allows architects and engineers to generate and exchange collaborative digital models – provided the backbone for the complex execution of London-based architects Zaha Hadid and long-term collaborator Patrik Schumacher’s newly completed project in the historically charged Jung District in Seoul, South Korea.

Reference is made to the use of the BIM method several times in the press material released by the architects: ‘Parametric modeling techniques enabled to continually test and adapt the design to an ever-evolving client’s brief as well as to accommodate unforeseen site conditions and local legal and regulatory requirements. Such technologies also participate in reassessing the architectural design process and streamlining the coordination among consultants.’

Though the Dongdaemun Design Plaza bears the architects' signature sensuous formal vocabulary and futuristic monumentality, it lays out intricate spatial and organizational structures, engaging in the staging of social interactions both within and around its perimeter. The building, as it deftly handles numerous functional and configuration considerations, comes together in a powerful and expressive way, shaping a framework for a dynamic system to grow and to adequately express the crosscurrents of Seoul’s notoriously fast-paced urban life.

This large-scale urban development project covers a centrally-located 65,000-sq-m area and is totaling as much as 87,000-sq-m of useful floor space. Hadid’s DDP is designed to accommodate a diverse programme, comprising a convention and an exhibition hall, a conference room, a museum, educational facilities, lounge areas, office and retail spaces as well as a 350-space parking lot, all distributed across eight levels, four of which are underground. The creative team claims the mixed-use complex building has an honest contemporary twist and provides a respectful architectural response. It tackles interventions of varying scales and scopes, leading to the creation of attractive urban green spaces with lasting values.

Putting aside the architect’s keenly contested provocative agenda – often regarded with incomprehension by her exasperated peers – the Dongdaemun Design Plaza is especially striking for its exterior envelope, clad with over 45,000 mosaic-like perforated metal panels. The density and overall logic of the perforation patterns are precisely defined by parametric controls, creating visual effects depending on the lighting conditions and seasonal changes. Regardless, the building – which falls in with other Korean projects at the forefront of technological innovations – seems to embody a pragmatic application of diversified skills and certainly reflects the practice’s unique passion for outstanding designs.

Photos Virgile Simon Bertrand