The Hangang River, which finally became the river of the capital during the Joseon Dynasty period, is much bigger and more spectacular than any other famous rivers of the world including the Seine of Paris, the Thames of London, and the Vltava of Prague. Constructing a building on the Hangang River was, as architect Kim Tae-man says, “Like something out of a sci-fi movie.”
“some sevit is not an outcome of construction technology but a splendid achievement made by the long-standing shipbuilding techniques of Korea. It is hard to find any other river in the world with as much water quantity as the Hangang River, so it was a blessing as well as an obstacle for urban development. With its severe water level fluctuations due to the temperate climate, the Hangang River was difficult to tame and thus made the kings contemplate over ways to prevent damages from flood or drought. The creation of some sevit is mostly thanks to the hard work of engineers. The true worth of a building is displayed only when both the interior and exterior are used. I’m happy to be able to return the interior and exterior space to the citizens with a new name three years after the completion, thanks to Hyosung.”
As mentioned by Kim, who was in charge of designing some sevit, the water level difference between the flood season and dry season of the Hangang River is approximately 15m. The water level of the Hangang River on an ordinary basis is 4 to 6m, but Kim designed some sevit to be floating up to maximum 20m, as the water level rose up to 20m 200 years ago when the Hangang River overflowed.
“There is low and high technology used in floating a structure on water. Usually we construct a building after setting up pillars on the river bed and putting a board over them. But high technology involves the floating format in which the structure actually floats on water. some sevit is a typical example. The steel wire is balanced horizontally, tightly pulling and fixating the building that floats on water, and automatically controls it as well. It’s a cutting-edge construction method used for the first time in Korea. It’s one part of architecture that has not been tried before in floating construction due to the Hangang River’s big water level fluctuations. The technical elements controlling the building floating on water will be a new milestone for architectural techniques.”
Kim states that “an encounter of architecture and science (technology) is a natural fate of architecture.” An ‘innovation of architectural technique’ always lies within ‘groundbreaking architecture.’ some sevit, which accommodated all the latest cutting-edge technology available in this era, is a repository of advanced technology itself.
some sevit, which obtained the new value of the ‘three shining islands’ as Hyosung took the reins of management, has the total floor area of 9,995㎡ (approximately 3,000 pyeong), 1.4 times the size of a soccer field. some sevit is divided into three islands that are connected by paths so that visitors can enjoy the composure of leisurely strolling along the Hangang River. Gavit with the Convention Center and a café, Chavit with restaurants, and Some Solvit with water leisure facilities are connected with a bridge along with the Media Art Gallery named Yevitseom.
When constructing a building, all architects of the world ponder over whether they should seek contrast or harmony with the surroundings. Kim decided on a more direct approach to make some sevit an icon of the Hangang River, instead of opting for the eco-friendly approach to hide the structure in the nature of the river. Inspired by the city of Florence where the Renaissance first began, Kim took the concept of a flower and designed the structure as if it opens its buds from the seed and then goes into full bloom, embracing the meaning of ‘blossoming culture and art at the Hangang River’.
“I think a city needs complex beauty. Calmness is good, but a harmony of the old and the new, as well as a harmony of modern buildings and nature that forms a community is also beautiful. I’m most grateful for the comment made by people that some sevit has brought vitality to the Hangang River.”
For Kim, an architect with 20 years of experience, ‘architecture is a junction of science and art’. It must not only offer the venue for the architect’s self-expression but also fulfill the needs, understanding and use of people. His way of thinking is in line with his other works, such as the Seoul Memorial Park, the Integrated Government Complex in Sejong, and the International Pavilion of Yeosu Expo 2012.
“So far, the Hangang River has been a place to cross on a bridge, a place to ride a boat, and something that divides the south (Gangnam) and the north (Gangbuk) at the end of our view. Now I hope people can walk right into the Hangang River through some sevit, see a new face of the river and cherish their memories.”
They say the only ruler of art is ‘need’. some sevit reminds us of the role of space, which embraces the warmth of people. Let’s go and enjoy the second miracle of the Hangang River: some sevit.
Written by Gyeong-min Kim (freelancer), photographed by Soojeong Han (Day40 Studio)
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