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Architecture and Heritage: Unearthing Future

Architecture and Heritage: Unearthing Future presented by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and Deoksugung Palace Management Office, poses a new interpretation of the Korean Empire's dream for future city in the beginning of modernism, from the perspectives of contemporary architects. This year marks the centennial of Emperor Gojong's passing and the March First Independence Movement. For the exhibition looking to revisit the significance of Korean modern heritage, William Lim among other architects active in Asia, the region that shared the turbulent times of open ports and modernization, were commissioned to set their installations against the historical background and unique spatial characteristics of Deoksugung Palace and MMCA Seoul. 


With the principle of “creating the new based on the old (Goo-bon-shin-cham, 舊本新參)”, Gwangmu Reform (1897-1904) showed the imperial family's resolution to be open to the new culture while standing rooted in the history. It was during this time that the architecture of the East and the West came to coexist at the renovated Deoksugung, and the urban space was modernized by renewing the streets and building Dongnimmun Gate and Pagoda Park. Although there is room for debate, it could be imagined that Emperor Gojong played the role of urban designer for the new era at the center of this reform. As a tribute to his efforts that could not fully blossom because of the Japanese occupation, Unearthing Future presents works that connect the past and the future in the language of contemporary architecture.


Architecture is a technique and an art form that brings the future into the physical present. Architects imagine far into the future to design and materialize space. Those who use the space experience the future, and the forms of the well-worn architecture then become the evidence of the past. Architecture is also the symbol of authority. The values of the one who holds the power determine the order and ornamentation of the space. The transfer of power from the centralized state to the public drastically transformed our perception of the space. The march that occupied the streets a hundred years ago signaling the beginning of bottom-up democracy was kindled at Deoksugung Palace upon the death of Emperor Gojong, and must have moved through Sejong-daero boulevard to reach where MMCA Seoul stands. 


The five architect groups, Space Popular, CL3, Bureau Spectacular, OBBA and Obra Architects, experiment with the assigned space each in their own way. Their works freely travel in the time vested in the historical space and put the power to test. Between the high and the low, and the transparent and the obstructed, they instill vigor in our modern heritage. Through this exhibition, visitors will experience sensations engendered by the meeting of adaptable architecture of contemporary architects and the living heritage. Architecture and Heritage: Unearthing Future presents new spatial and temporal landscapes staged by the works that commemorate the centennial history of modern Korea.

Projects, William LimCL3 CL3