Seung H-Sang (03/11/2015)

2A Asia Architecture Award 2015 theme

Theme: 2A Asia Architectural Award
Autumn 2015

The interview has been published in 2A Magazine issue #33-#34

Ahmad Zohadi: How can architects, Planners and landscape designers intervene to alleviate the human afflictions in the realm of the built environment?

Seung H-Sang: I remember Winston Churchill’s words which was delivered at the ruin of the Parliament destroyed by bombing in 1943. He said “We shape buildings thereafter they shape us.” I fully agree his words. In the other words, architecture could change our life. Namely if we live in a good architecture, we could be better. The reverse is same. Thus the most important thing is how to get a good architecture. I believe there are 3 elements to be a good architecture. ; timeness, purposeness, placeness. If a newly built environment would respond to the virtue of the current time, and if it responds to requirement following its program, and if it satisfies the condition of the land, it should enhance the inherent dignity of our life.

Ahmad: Please flow this idea:
Between the countries from different civilizations in the Asia continent, there has been a constant history of trade, migration and sharing of cultural practices, which has extended strongly, even in the field of architecture.
I realized these countries has a deep and true connection with moral principal, which has affected all aspects of its society (Culture, Architecture, Art and their identity in general), their root and identity has influenced their architecture.
I also understood that their traditional architecture has been naturally developed in a sustainable manner, I believe that the underlying cultural, historical and spiritual values has led to creation of this form of natural sustainability.
" It is the differing uses of history, to create varied sets of architectural languages whiten our contemporary framework that is of interest. This is especially true in the context of globalization, which has a powerful tendency to homogenize.”
Hence, I would like to ask you as a member of the jury of Asia Architecture Award, do you consider this thought when you judge the projects?

Seung: Let’s remember the story of Modernism. Our masters created Modernism believed our intelligence and ration, and believed form follows function. They focused on standard, categorization and division based on statistic results. In its results, we witnessed mass care and devastation thru wars by its mechanism. But this time is different with previous one. Now everybody becomes to express his/her own opinion thru various networks. Individual or a part becomes more special than before. But this special individual or part might not be interested by others. Here the specialness needs to intend universality in order to share by all people. So I like to call this ‘specific universality’, and have a keen concerning on architecture to have this wherever it built.

Ahmad:In order to understand the contemporary architectural and urban landscapes of Asia, in your opinion, what are the emergent manifestations of Asia in contemporary Architecture and Urbanism?

Seung: For this answer, I like to quote Richard Sennett’s speech.;
‘Decentralized democracy has a particular affinity to the modern city. That is what Aristotle tried to convey in the term synoikimos-a coming together of differences, be they families or economic interests or political views. ....... Decentralized democracy also has a visual dimension. This democratic vision may prefer the jumbled, polyglot architecture of neighborhoods to the symbolic statements made by big, central buildings................. The results of visual, decentralized democracy should be, ultimately to shatter those images which attempt to represent the city as a whole.’

Ahmad: How important is context in Contemporary Architectural Design? As a professional, researcher and educator working in Asia, what are factors, criteria or even constrains that have influential impact on your profession?

Seung: The land. Time should change, and function or program would change. But a land stays as it has been wherever it is. This fact is unique and essential to my architecture. Land always say or whisper what kind of architecture or city it wants to be. I think only good designer or architect could hear the voice. I called it ‘architecture and urbanism of ‘Landscript’.