Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith
+ Gordon Gill Architecture

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Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

Skyscrapers in Seoul: a pair of 450 metre-high towers with glass scales by Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture are the latest of fifteen skyscrapers commissioned for the Yongsan International Business District in Seoul, South Korea, following recently released designs by BIG and MVRDV.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

Positioned side by side in the fast-growing business and commercial district on the north bank of the Han River, the two Dancing Dragon towers will have a similar design that comprises a supporting central core and a series of wings attached to the sides.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

The tallest of the two buildings will be around 450 metres in height, containing offices, apartments, a hotel and shops over a total of 88 floors.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

Mullions between the overlapping glass panels of the exterior will incorporate natural ventilation, while huge skylights will span the roof of each tower. A faceted glass shopping centre will create a podium at ground level.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture also designed the kilometre-high Kingdom Tower, which is currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and which will be the world's tallest building when complete.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

The firm was commissioned alongside fifteen other architects to design towers for the Yongsan International Business District, which was masterplanned by Daniel Libeskind and which is the biggest urban development project in South Korea. Due for completion in 2024, the masterplan was commissioned by South Korean developer DreamHub.

Dancing Dragons by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture

These plans follow designs by architects BIG and MVRDV for a building shaped like a hash symbol and two towers that resemble the exploding World Trade Centre on 9/11.

Here's some more information from the architects:


Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture designs Dancing Dragons, a two-tower complex for Seoul’s Yongsan International Business District

Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture is pleased to announce its design for Dancing Dragons, a pair of landmark supertall mixed-use towers for the new Yongsan International Business District in Seoul, South Korea. The buildings, which include residential, “officetel” and retail elements, consist of slender, sharply angled mini-towers cantilevered around a central core. The design aesthetic is highly contemporary yet informed by aspects of traditional Korean culture.

The mini-towers feature a dramatic series of diagonal massing cuts that create living spaces that float beyond the structure. This recalls the eaves of traditional Korean temples—a design theme echoed both in the geometry of the building skin and the jutting canopies at the towers’ base. The theme is extended in the building skin, which suggests the scales of Korean mythical dragons, which seem to dance around the core—hence the project’s name. (Yongsan, the name of the overall development, means “Dragon Hill” in Korean.)

Dancing Dragons’ scale-like skin is also a performative element. Gaps between its overlapping panels feature operable 600-mm vents through which air can circulate, making the skin “breathable” like that of certain animals.

Towers 1 and 2—about 450 meters and 390 meters tall, respectively—share an architectural language and, therefore, a close family resemblance, but are not identical. In the taller structure, the 88-level Tower 1, the massing cuts at the top and bottom of the mini-towers are V-shaped. In the 77-level Tower 2, the cuts move diagonally in a single unbroken line; they are also arranged in a radial pattern around the core that is perceptible as viewers move around the tower.

“There’s a sympathetic and complementary relationship between the two masses at the level of the cuts, almost as though they were dancing,”says Adrian Smith, FAIA, RIBA. “It’s always important for our designs to reflect and interpret the cultures they serve, and the Dancing Dragons complex certainly does that, although in an abstract and highly technological manner. We try to design in a way that is at once beautiful and focused on performance.”

In both buildings, the mini-tower cuts are clad in glass at the top and bottom, making for dramatic skylights above the units at the highest levels and a transparent floor beneath the units at the lowest levels. This offers the opportunity for special high-value penthouse duplex units with spectacular 360-degree views of downtown Seoul and the adjacent Han River, along with an abundance of natural light.

“The abstract recall of the historic structures gives the towers a unique perspective from the ground and the sky while creating unique interior experiences,” says Gordon Gill, AIA. “The shingled texture of the skin is developed with integrated breathable mullions and self-shading cantilevers. It’s a great honor to be joining several other top international architecture firms designing buildings for this remarkable master plan by Studio Daniel Libeskind.”

AS+GG partner Robert Forest, AIA, notes that Dancing Dragons represents AS+GG’s second major project in downtown Seoul. The other is the Head Office of the Federation of Korean Industries, an innovative and highly sustainable office building now under construction and scheduled to be completed next year. “We’re very excited to be making a sustainable contribution to the built environment of Seoul, one of the world’s great cities, in a manner that addresses the need for sustainable high density development while respecting Korean culture,” Forest says. “YIBD, which promises to become one of Seoul’s most dynamic and vital neighborhoods, will be an example of high-quality high-density design, and we’re proud to be a part of that.”

The design team also includes PositivEnergy Practice, a Chicago-based engineering and energy consulting firm that is designing a series of innovative building systems for the project. Sustainable features of the building system design include triple-glazed window units, which minimize heat loss; an overlapping exterior wall system, which creates a self-shading effect; and natural ventilation in all units through operable mullions. Other systems include radiant heating; fuel-cell cogeneration units at the basement level; photovoltaic arrays on the roof surfaces; daylight-linked lighting controls; and heat recovery via electric centrifugal chillers.

The structural scheme for Dancing Dragons, developed by AS+GG in collaboration with the international structural engineering firm Werner Sobek, features eight mega-columns that traverse the vertical length of both cores. The mini-towers are hung off the cruciform cores in a balanced fashion by means of a belt truss system, stabilizing the structure.

The design of the 23,000-square-meter site—part of the larger Yongsan master plan —reinforces the angular geometry of the building massing and skin. Landscape features, designed in collaboration with Martha Schwartz Partners, include sloped berms that echo that geometry. The site also includes a retail podium with a crystalline sculptural form and sunken garden that provide access to a large below-grade retail complex.

  • Grapes

    Beautiful Renders, is the future here already>?

  • okpala

    some plans & sections might help… nice towers and sexy Lakeshore Apartments teaser revealed under the dragons' skin.

    (now really missing Gail, Carlo and Iris at AS+GG…:))

  • Chris

    Did I die and wake up in a world where glass is the only building material?

  • http://twitter.com/keiralx @keiralx

    Interesting to see how the global financial crisis is affecting development in South Korea.

  • LOW

    Like a pair of shotguns… very American indeed

  • psy

    Dragon is a symbol for China not for Korea.
    The animal symbol for Korea is Phoenix which is known as 鳳凰 in Korea and China.
    The architect is an ignorant of Asian culture.

    • https://www.facebook.com/jewelsarang Sky Sweetskin

      Dragon is Korea symbol rather you ignorant korea culture.

    • visualpains

      Uhh? The dragon is prevalent in the Sinosphere (not exclusive to China, which "China" by the way?). It's an important symbol in Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and other indigenous animist beliefs also in Korea and Japan.

      Go be misinformed and immature somewhere else, please?

    • psy

      I don't think both of you are a Korean.
      I am just saying a fact.

      Go to this link to see the symbols at the office of the Korean President.
      Rose of sharon and Phoenix are the symbols of Korea as shown the pictures in the link.
      http://blog.naver.com/intara7?Redirect=Log&lo

      Of course, Koreans are familiar with Dragon but don't think Dragon is the symbol of Korea. It is obviously China's. And Korea and China have distinct history and culture.

      To me you don't seem to know a thing about Korea.

    • psy

      Let me tell you about the totems.

      Dragon is an animal from sea, and all the Asian countries were originated from the southern Asian use Dragon for their totem.
      Phoenix is an animal from sky, and all the countries from the northern Asia use a sort of Phoenix as their totems.

      Sino-china was originated at around the Taipei island and the yellow sea which is the Southern Asia, and Korea was originated from the Northern Asia above the Chinese wall. That is the reason why Korea's symbol is the Phoenix.

      Who is misinforming now?

    • psy

      By the way, I am not saying that the project is terrible.
      What I tried to say is just that the architect needs to choose the word to explain the project more carefully. Especially, when using cultural or symbolic terms.

  • hmm

    I think they need to design more carefully. it's too shallow and cheap idea. It's nothing special and I can't stop my laughing. Does really that curtain wall design come from Dragon's skin??? OMG….

  • Andy

    Very interesting!

  • tak007007007

    I guess some of you here are a bit funny. Why do you think a lot of architects are coming up with those rather shallow concepts like dragons, water bubbles, phoenix, or whatever?

    Let me tell you: I have to design cities in four weeks with a student, towers in a week etc. Just think about the pressure architects have to face today rather than laughing about the concepts.

    I am dealing with foreign investors who are giving us a ridiculous amount of time to complete the job. And honestly I don’t give a f*cking sh*t about how I sell the concept as long as I sell it and we can head to the next stage. Most of you guys are living in a fantasy or are not designing but documenting. Wake up guys.

  • milagros bogardus

    Hi my name is Mili. I’m from Peru and I´m working on a Rhino project for school and I need the floor plans, somebody know where I can get them? Please I need help!

  • Milli Vanilli

    You can get them from the internet.