Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox


Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

Skyscrapers in Seoul: here's yet another skyscraper proposal for the architectural zoo that is the Yongsan International Business District of Seoul - this time a 385-metre-high tower by architects Kohn Pedersen Fox with a vertiginous swimming pool sticking out two thirds of the way up.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

Block H will be located in the northeast corner of the fast-growing commercial district that was masterplanned by Daniel Libeskind, where fifteen other architects have also been commissioned by South Korean developer DreamHub to design landmark towers.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

The body of the tower will be split into three wings, with floors that gradually step inwards to create rooftop gardens for the apartments and five star hotel housed inside.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

The swimming pool is to be located on the roof of one of these wings and will cantilever precariously over the edge.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

Other proposals we've featured from the district include a 620-metre-tall skyscraper by Renzo Piano, an apartment block shaped like a hash symbol by BIG and a faceted tower by SOM.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

See all of our stories about the district here and see images of each project in our special slideshow feature.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

See all our stories about skyscrapers »

Here's a press release from KPF:

KPF Designs Iconic Tower for Yongsan IBD

385-meter building will include 5-star hotel and high-end residences

International architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) is pleased to present its design for Block H of the Yongsan International Business District (YIBD) in Seoul. The goal of YIBD is to create a new symbol for the 21st Century city; a new urban center in Seoul for international business, living, entertainment, and shopping. YIBD will lead the world in innovative design, maximizing the site potential and taking advantage of connections made to its urban and natural assets. The master plan, created by Studio Daniel Libeskind, is a dynamic urban environment containing contributions from 19 different architects practicing in diverse locations around the globe.

Scheduled for completion in 2016, Block H consists of a luxury 5-Star hotel and high-end serviced residential building containing 167,225 square meters of space. The 385-meter-tall tower sits on a 14,600-square-meter parcel of land on the northeastern border of the YIBD, achieving an FAR of 11.4%. KPF’s building is situated in a way that seeks to mediate the extreme height (665m) of the landmark office tower to the northwest, and transition this height to the lower scale of the residential blocks beyond. KPF sought to intensify the social aspect of the street through a distinct urban landscape and diverse program at the lower levels of the building.

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

According to KPF Design Principal, Trent Tesch, “Our goal for this project is to establish and make connections to street life, the new city of Yongsan, and to the larger context of Seoul. We do this through a thoughtful approach to the building's program, position, and character.”

Fundamental to the logic of the unique shape of the design is the idea that the building is comprised of apartments and hotel rooms that demand ample natural light, dramatic views, and maximum privacy. These three internal parameters have shaped the DNA of the Architecture. Like an organic system that seeks equilibrium with nature, the design grows outward from the center, towards views and light, into three distinct “wings.” The three wings guarantee that the residential apartments will have a major corner view from the living space, while maximizing its privacy from the adjacent unit. Unlike most “Y” type high-rise towers, the design “steps” each wing asymmetrically so there is a low-wing, a mid-wing and a high-wing. The building is carefully oriented to increase views to the Han River to the south (low-wing), the Yongsan Park to the east (mid-wing), and the Nam-San historic district and adjacent landmark tower to the north (high-wing).

Block H by Kohn Pedersen Fox

KPF Managing Principal, Richard Nemeth adds, “As demonstrated by this futuristic new city center, Seoul is one of the leading innovative Architectural Arenas in Asia, and we are proud to design the hospitality component of it. We hope that it will successfully bridge the high speed rail network with the commercial components to invigorate the master plan.”

KPF’s tower contains casino, retail, and spa functions in the basement, and the firm proposed a podium building to accommodate a large banquet hall and other amenities for the hotel. The desire, however, is not to create a composition of tower and podium, but rather to create a tower that emerges or grows out of the podium like the organic growth of a crystal. The tower and podium are treated as one singular form, with a language of terraces and set-back forms that grow upwards and outwards towards light and views.

The hotel and serviced residences will be expressed with different but interrelated material palettes. The solid elements on the façade will be expressed as a dynamic pattern of non-repetitious surfaces that create a field on the side walls of the tower and expose the end walls where maximum views are desired. These surfaces transition from stone slab at the base of the building to textured metal surfaces at the top of the building (where the program shifts from hotel to residential), subtly exposing the program of the building. Natural materials such as stone, metal, and wood, are used in ways that heighten their character. Large slabs of stone, planks of wood, and real alloys comprise both interior and exterior surfaces.

  • Rob

    Oh look, it's a glass box with a twist, what a refreshing change.

  • nathan6100

    This planet really has no chance with humans doing this to it….

  • Yongsan: 3dmax battleground. Not going to make their economy more productive so I cant see 99% of these actually getting built..

  • qfg

    Are there enough rich people in Korea to buy up all of this property in this district? Ive yet to see anything even an architect of this district could afford in all of these renderings..

    • mas

      a good chunk of all the property is office space. considering the district is being funded by a business consortium, filling that space is possibly less of an issue.

      further, half of this tower is a hotel. but yeah the apartments in this tower specifically are likely intended to be the most expensive in the district, so i'd be skeptical if they could fill it all for that reason alone.

    • Chris

      'even an architect… could afford'? You're clearly not an Architect.

  • Nino

    What a disaster

  • H-J

    At first I thought that all these towers by some of the crème de la crème of diagrammatic sketchup architecture and some of the biggest corporate firms were different offices delivering proposals for the same brief. But if they all gonna be built next to one another, that will just be silly. The sum of the whole is lesser than its parts…

  • concerned user

    Open Message to Dezeen :

    I love Dezeen and I've followed it for years, but there has been something bothering me for quite a while now regarding the commenting.
    I think it would be a great idea to require registration in order to post comments.
    It often becomes a bit of a bitch-fest otherwise.
    Don't get me wrong, I think criticism is fair and very useful, but having to log in , and having a user name would deal with "off-the-cuff" , uncooked sometimes bordering on trollish remarks , and would nudge users to be a bit constructive apart from being negative and judgemental. I'm partial to a bit of the old sandwich criticism. Any thoughts?
    Peace and Love!

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for speaking up – we're in the process of redesigning our comment system right now so this kind of feedback is really useful!

      • Steven

        For what it's worth, I hate registering….but I also agree totally with the 'concerned user.' While I haven't seen anything as grotesque as what you might find on sites like Yanko, I've always expected a high calibre comment to go along with high calibre Dezeen posts! So…please tread lightly in finding the right mix. Good luck!

    • Pygmalion

      you just stumbled on one of the most impartial criticisms done to a Dezeen posting. The draft fell on a very bad project today, coming from an otherwise famous firm… They couldn't be more constructive than that.

      • concerned user

        hi Pygmalion, I purely chose a random post with comments on it so i had a better chance at sparking this conversation, not aimed at this particular project "bleeding" at all. Although, on that note I don't consider comments like a plain: "what a disaster" very constructive would you ? : ), i guess that's very debatable.

        • Pygmalion

          I agree, these are merely hollow, unarticulated remarks that don’t bring any valid opinion into debate. Yet, vox populi – vox dei… My concern is rather with the low level of professional ethics when it comes to big names in the business. The big companies’ easy way of ‘appropriating’ others’ concepts and turning them into built work, not to mention the revenue, publicity and very often awards that come along. Take SOM’s Singapore Airport vs Dominique Perrault’s Galician Cultural City Competition, Davis Brody Bond’s Valeo Thermal Systems vs Ian Ritchie’s Stockley Park Building, for instance.

          I do not find fair that all Architecture’s eunuchs reigning atop big companies as ‘Design Principals’ should easily get away and make themselves a name and fortune out of blatantly stolen ideas. In this line, KPF’s Yongsan Tower is just a dumb mash-up of all the coolest architectural imagery they may have had on their hard drive, but it’s a telltale on how petty, self-inflictive architecture world has become these days.

          Perhaps Dezeen might find a role in sorting this out, rhetorically. So that Asian developers should spend their money on the original, and not the copy…

  • The future looks glorious!

  • Pygmalion

    This project is full of architectural cliches borrowed from the late 20th Century; the typology (Trump Tower Chicago), the cladding (Chipperfield and all the others who started the frenzy 20 years ago), the pop-out boxes (we know who, Natalie de Vries, right?)… but I’ll give them credits for the green floating ilots on the podium pool.

  • Ben

    Even though it had its flaws, I'd rather see Mass Studies' Seoul Commune 2026 get built than any of these buildings.

  • opl

    if I may present the opposing side of this argument: the funny, sometimes trolling comments are why I like this site. I mean, dezeen just posts press releases, just like archdaily and a million other sites. The comments are the only real opinions on the site, and anything done to prevent them is bad in my opinion. If this site goes to a place where only a few politically polite comments are in every post I am out of here…. With the growing dependence on networking in in architectural culture the internet is one of the few places for genuine anonymous criticism. I feel like good design here is always rewarded and bad design is always punished in the comments, even if they are very off the cuff.

    • Edward

      Totally agree – the honesty is the only reason I come to this site. Dezeen’s the only place I actually feel like there’s transparency.

  • still concerned

    I see your point opl, and i agree,although you wouldn't necessarily end up with a few politically correct comments, I think it would be positive if people took responsibility for what they post to some extent, I think logging up would deal with that, and you would still have users with deliciously dark souls who would become the tormentors of bad design and poor ideas.

    By the way do you really think that good design is rewarded? Then there can't be much good design on the site, I invite you to look back on the comments and check how many projects didn't get trashed to some degree by semi-intelligible remarks.

  • gravely worried

    Keep the comment boards free for anyone to post anything I say.

    If you want in-depth, politically correct architectural criticism, then I suggest you should look somewhere other than Dezeen as it is an online magazine after all and not a theory journal.

    As mentioned by someone else, it is often the anonymous sharp witty comments that are the best.

    • Edward

      YES – exactly. Tired of people beating around the bush about architecture. We need aggressive change and I promise you, diplomacy won’t change a THING.

  • Fizz Fieldgrass

    @ still concerned: my experience with the balance of positive and negative remarks about projects here is that there seems to be a certain healthy equilibrium and the latter form not unduly outweighing the former.

    As someone guilty of submitting a 'pithy remark now and then, I hope that contained therein may also be some accompanying point of observation. 'Vox Pop' has always been understood to carry the downside of factious or simplistic commentary but perhaps a barrage of invective at times may be considered a deserved communal riposte – in itself a legitimate consensus of opinion.

    Regarding the specific piece of architecture here, it should make those in the UK feel blessed that we have the likes of the Shard representing an exemplary example of the genre.