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Sun Tower, Seoul

Seoul, South Korea
1 of 4Evan Chakroff

The 1997 Sun Tower in Seoul, South Korea was designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis and is a 10-story building that combines retail and office space and is distinguished by its two-layer skin comprising an inner steel-and-glass building envelope and an outer performated aluminium-mesh screen.

It was Morphosis' objective the formal demands of the surface, the second skin, from the pragmatic requirements of the body. Morphosisi states that "the rigid constraints of a very constricted site, a generic program, and a requirement to maximize the zoning envelope posed a challenge to create a form liberated from the direct impact of these conditions."

Morphosis was inspired in his design by the forms and materials distinct to Korean origami and by the garment design of his client, a clothes manufacturer. The movement of the sun produces optical effects that shift constantly. At the peak of day it is a reflective place; at night, illuminated from the interior, it acts as an oversized urban billboard and shadow play. At once brise-soleil, enclosure, and lyrical abstraction, the surface perpetually transforms, oscillating between translucency and opacity, until the building itself appears dematerialized. Additionally, this exterior membrane reinterprets city setback constraints, wrapping and folding its way up the height of the tower and ultimately enclosing a penthouse with a set of three-story trusses that contains mechanical space and alludes to the top articulation of the traditional tower typology.

37-38 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu
Ove Arup
Dae Yoo Gong Young, Sejin-Tajima