[Herald Design Forum 2018] Smaller buildings, higher ceilings and diversified structures for schools: Yoo Hyun-joon

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Sept 15, 2018 - 17:33
  • Updated : Sept 15, 2018 - 19:32

Though we have all attended different schools at different times, the schools are likely to be similar in shape and structure.

But architect Yoo Hyun-joon challenges this norm, arguing that school architecture should be diversified. Yoo is a professor of architecture at Hongik University and the head architect at Hyunjoon Yoo Architects, widely known to the Korean public for his popular lectures, books and TV appearances. 
Yoo Hyun-joon speaks at the Herald Design Forum 2018 at Dongdaemun Design Center, Seoul, Saturday (Park Hae-mook / The Korea Herald)
A welfare center at Sinan-gun, South Jeolla Province, also known as “The Void,” designed by Yoo Hyun-joon (Hyunjoon Yoo Architects)

During his lecture at the Herald Design Forum 2018 Saturday, Yoo talked about school architecture, mentioning that it is “where the future is at.”

“This is the most important topic we are discussing today,” he said, after discussing urban architecture, “In what schools should we raise our children?”

He criticized the current school architecture environment, saying that the government and the authorities are reluctant to make any changes or investments.

“There isn‘t any difference between a school and a prison,” Yoo said. “They are both surrounded by high walls and you are forbidden to climb over them. Students are living lives that are separated from nature. They are locked up in closed spaces and living isolated lives.”

“They are imprisoned like chickens at a poultry farm. We place them in the same environment for 12 years and tell them to fly like an eagle after graduation,” he said.

Yoo suggested some possible solutions, including higher ceilings. He cited a study, which argues that greater creativity can be fostered at places with higher ceilings. Indeed, the ceilings at Yoo’s architectural firm in southern Seoul is higher than at typical office spaces.

“The buildings should be small, so students can relate themselves to them. There should be an emotional link to make students happier, as if they belonged there,” he said.

According to Yoo, apartment buildings are harder to relate to compared with houses, due to the huge size.

“We cannot make everyone’s house nice. But by building nice schools, everyone can enjoy a nice space for 12 years,” Yoo said.

By Im Eun-byel (