‘Light Monumentality’ at SNU

SsD was invited by Seoul National University's Department of Architecture to teach a 5-day workshop for their Frontline series.  We posed the term  'Light Monumentality' to the students, a topic we have been exploring in our recent work.  On the first day, students presented their interpretation of the term.

The workshop brief asks to the students to grapple with concept of monumentality in contemporary architectural terms:  Who or to what power structure does a monument belong?  How does the programmatic function align with its symbolic intent?  Can the social content of the monument shift or does it remain aligned to a single power structure?  We have intentionally juxtaposed the concept of lightness and monumentality to put the terms into question.  We all understand that the monumental assumes a certain gravity, a staid materiality, a relationship to particular ideologies.  However lightness conveys a different conceptual stream: the phenomenological qualities of natural light, lightness of ecological and energy footprints, lightness of contemporary tectonics that can no longer rely upon unlimited human labor, and lightness in terms of the speed of construction required by modern urbanization.

The Korean context is especially a significant backdrop to address these current issues.  With the creation of new urban zones, each of these territories must compete for identity while attempting to generate a sense of publicity within a constantly evolving social and cultural climate.  Architecture then plays a central role as it communicates the larger agendas of these new urban entities.  It is instrumental in communicating the aspirations and the ideas of a larger public sphere.  At the same time it must also be flexible in the context of a quickly transforming society.