Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism to kicks off Saturday

By Im Eun-byel

5-day festival explores interaction between architecture and urbanism

  • Published : Sept 5, 2019 - 16:36
  • Updated : Sept 19, 2019 - 14:35

The 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism is set to begin its 65-day run, starting Saturday.

Titled “Collective City,” the event explores the interactive relationship between architecture and urbanism through exhibitions, programs and extra activities. Organized by the Seoul Design Foundation, the biennale was inaugurated in 2017.

“We hope to suggest an alternative for the future of cities. The biennale is to function as a place where people can start a discourse on cities,” Choi Kyung-ran, the president of the Seoul Design Foundation said at a press event held at Dongdaemun Design Plaza on Thursday.

“Communication is important. I hope citizens, who are owners of cities, can better understand the biennale and actively participate in it,” said architect Lim Jae-yong, co-director of the festival. 

Director Francisco Sanin speaks during a press tour held prior to the 2019 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism on Thursday at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

Fellow co-director Francisco Sanin agreed, saying, “Architect’s role is to bring different people with different ideas together.” He asserted that a “collective city” can “grow culture and (allow us) to be better.” US-based architect and professor Sanin is highly recognized as an urban designer.

The 65-day biennale will be held across central Seoul, taking place at multiple locations, including the Seoul Museum of History, Donuimun Museum Village, Seoul Hall of Urbanism & Architecture, Sewoon Hall and DDP. It is categorized into five main parts: Thematic Exhibition, Cities Exhibition, Global Studios, Live Projects and Seoul Madang.

Thematic Exhibition, curated by Australia-educated artist Beth Hughes, is being held at DDP, aiming to reimagine the basic structures of cities, exploring new forms of architecture needed in modern cities. 

A prototype of Mass Studies’ “Danginri Podium and Promenade,” which won the Danginri Comprehensive Cultural Space Design Competition, is on display at Dongdaemun Design Plaza. (Yonhap)

Cities Exhibition, curated by architect Lim Dong-woo, is subtitled “City as Collective Consequence.” The exhibition held at Donuimun Museum Village and Seoul Hall of Urbanism & Architecture presents an in-depth look into 80 cities in 47 countries, introducing problems that each city faces.

Lim asserted that cities are connected to each other and problems are shared.

For instance, artist Edwina Portocarrero and ORU Oficina de Resiliencia Urbana (Office for Urban Resilience) from Mexico City came up with an installation that raises awareness on safety. Dubbed “Big Equalizer,” a living room with vibrating furniture allows visitors to indirectly experience the threat of earthquakes -- a familiar feeling to many from Mexico City.

Global Studio invites 43 universities around the world to present results of the students’ debate on “Collective City” at Sewoon Hall. Live Project focuses on Seoul’s traditional markets with an exhibition and tour programs.

The biennale also offers various hands-on activities for the wider public, from educational programs, tours, public lectures and film screenings to more, encouraging citizen participation in the event.

For more information or reservations for programs, check the biennale’s official website at Admissions to all biennale exhibition are free, with the exception of the Thematic Exhibition, which is 9,000 won per adult.

By Im Eun-byel (