ERA Architects

Seoul: its heritage and its future

ERA’s Sharon Hong was recently published in Transforming Asian Cities, a new book edited by Nihal Perera and Wing-Shing Tang for Routledge. According to Perera and Tang, Asian cities are too often thought of as “following global models” and “Western-dominated urban hierarchies and spatial structures.” This new publication, however, aims to provide “inside-out” interpretations of Asian urbanism.

Sharon’s text describes Seoul, a complex admixture of Confucian ideals, pungsu (or fengshui) praxis, post-Corbusian planning efforts, contemporary eco-consciousness, and neoliberal cultural industry. The text paints a picture of a genuinely strange concatenation of forms, typologies, histories, cultures, narratives, and artifacts, all attempting to work together and all tilting toward some yet unseen future state.

As Sharon suggests, while Korean cultural and built fabric continue to evolve, its heritage provides useful guidance. Seoul, which has seen a vast amount of change through colonization, industrialization, and various post-industrial strategies, has a valuable wealth of resources in its unique landforms, traditional pungsu planning, and long cultural history.