Monday, October 10, 2011

D-Cube City inspired by Korean mountains, rivers

A 42-story round strucutre with lantern-like front buildings, a department store, theater and an apartment complex make up D-Cube City in Sindorim, Seoul. Integrating retail, entertainment and cultural functions with offices, hotels and residential areas, D-Cube City has become a new landmark of southwestern Seoul since its opening in September.

The facility was designed by the Jerde Partnership, a design studio based in Los Angeles, with offices in Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Dubai.

"Most of our projects are for retail purposes," Rick Poulos, executive vice president at the Jerde Partnership, said. "Jerde's projects activate the characteristics of the city based on the understanding of who the people using the facility are."

Jerde also incorporates local traits into their creations.

"We like the spirit of Koreans. Korea has beautiful landscapes and it seems that their spirit and emotion is tied to the environment," Poulos said.

The architect studio has a knack for designing commercial facilities including Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Langham Place in Hong Kong and Universal Citywalk in Los Angeles. In Korea, Jerde has designed the City 7 Mall in Changwon and Color Square in Daegu and many more projects are underway.

Sergio Zeballos, design principal at the Jerde Partnership, said a Korean landscape painting, "Mountains and Rivers Without an End" by Yi In-mun in the 18th century, inspired the design of the building complex.

"The client, Daesung Industrial, had the initial idea of 'nature' and 'culture,'" Zeballos said. "So we thought that people should feel this as a part of a natural landscape."

As he intended, visitors to the building walk through small and large buildings of D-Cube City, as if they are climbing up a hill. “We created a different natural landscape here,” Zeballos said. To reinforce the theme of nature, a series of waterfalls and pools are set inside the main department store building.

In addition to the mountain element, Zeballos came up with the idea of lanterns. “Lanterns are used for ceremonies or to mark special places. In this case, lanterns indicate that this is a special place,” the design principal said. The “lanterns” of D-Cube City are embodied as small buildings situated in front of the complex, where warm light glows through exterior cladding. The lantern buildings are occupied by fashion stores as well as cafes and restaurants.

“The 42-story tower ― used by Daesung and Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel ― is the icon of the project,” Zeballos said. The hotel’s lobby is located on the top floor, taking advantages of the views.

Unlike other shopping malls which have cinemas, D-Cube City has a musical theater with "Mamma Mia! currently playing "
“The theater was so big and we had to think of several ways to make it a part of the architecture,” Zeballos said. “So we made a curve at the exterior of the building and added illumination to make it blend in with the rest of the project. The facade design came from an abstract notion of the ginkgo leaf.”

Zeballos said the design was geared to help people experience D-Cube City. “Everywhere you go, you will notice that it is designed for visitors, different from traditional malls where people just shop and eat. D-Cube City is emotionally engaging and makes people come back. That is what differentiates a Jerde project,” he said.

Source: The Korea Times

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