Architects taking a different stride is far too common these days. However, the trend has been around for a long time. Yong Ju Lee is one such architect who is the principal founder of Yong Ju Lee Architects. He currently pursues his career as a South Korean film director and screenwriter while his Seoul- and New York-based firm continues to explore the uncharted, achieving success through innovative inventions. Their work focuses on complicated parametric and architectural tectonics in the form of information-based patterns and tessellation vocabulary. Let us look at a few of their iconic projects.

1. The Wind Shape, Hwaseong, South Korea

A structure, aimed at creating continual movement as part of an outdoor exhibit of the city’s Coke museum depicts the look of a piece of cloth flowing in the wind. This metal structure, comprising 300 distinct triangles made of 1.2mm and 1.6mm metal plates, was produced using computer software and presents a fascinating visual contrast against the naked stone substrate. The holes atop the sheet accentuate the movement of wind, while the underneath offers shade and directs the visitor’s path through the outdoor space.

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Intriguing visual contrast_©https://www.archdaily.com/
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The triangulated flow_©https://www.archdaily.com/
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Light and shadow_©https://www.archdaily.com/

2. The Root Bench, Seoul, South Korea

The ‘Root Bench,’ located in Hangang Art Park, not only defies categorization but also blurs the line between artificial and natural environments. The unique radial structure that rhythmically dissipates into the earth was developed using a computer program based on a ‘reaction-diffusion’ mathematical model. The structure is 30 meters in diameter and is supported by a metal frame with concrete fittings. These wave surfaces, featuring three different heights, provide seating as well as tables to accommodate all visitors.

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Terrain like roots of a tree_©https://www.archdaily.com/
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Varying heights_©https://www.livinspaces.net/
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Night View_©Kyungsub Shin, Dae Won Lee, Kyung Mo Choi and Yong Ju Lee Architecture

3. Dispersion Sculpture, Suin Line Memorial Park

Yong Ju Lee Architecture created the ‘Dispersion’ sculptures to preserve a piece of history: the Suin transit route. Consisting of two sculptures, Dispersion one creates the impression of blending into its surroundings due to the progressive pixelation of the shape. The second sculpture, Dispersion 2, speaks about the original train’s restricted spatial qualities by allowing viewers to sense and experience its original proportions. This initiative ties the new generation to memories of the old city; increasing their sense of belonging and their comprehension of significant historic city transit networks.

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The Dispersion Sculptures_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Pixelated form appears to solidify_©https://www.arch2o.com/
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Depiction of the narrow passageway_©https://www.arch2o.com/

4. Fire Station, Myeonmok, South Korea

Breaking the conventional design of fire stations in the urban context, Yong Ju Lee Architecture’s new station attempts to deal with it through the structure itself. The design, which is located in a residential neighborhood and faces a six-lane road in the front and a retaining wall in the rear, gives a distinctive architectural emblem. Its striking appearance shows that the fire station has a new identity as a public facility. Elevated louvers represent the easy movement of fire engines. This skin gives a functional benefit by shielding direct sunlight while allowing adequate lighting and openness, as well as a conceptual notion.

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Strategic Location_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Elevation representing movement of fire engines_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Fire Vehicles Garage_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

5. Flower Ring, Nam-gu, Daegu

Flower Ring is a freestanding pavilion with stainless steel plate furnishings. In dynamic circulation, hundreds of steel flowers are linked to form a ring shape. It is devised via a computer method that uses optimization technologies to bring about geometric order in chaos.  The perforation by flowers not only produces a pleasant communal space through light and shadow during the day but also generates another detailed figure with LED inside at night. This sculpture, located in the heart of a public garden in an apartment complex, indicates a powerful visual stimulation in every direction and dynamism in everyday life.

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Freestanding Pavillion with dynamic circulation_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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View at night_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Stainless Steel Flowers_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

6. Wing Tower, Dosan Park, Seoul, South Korea

The Sulwha Cultural Exhibition shares the vital attribute of harmony and coexistence between tradition and modernity. Since 2015, the show has included traditional folktale as a theme serving as a cultural venue where young artists offer their interpretations in a modern setting, promoting cross-generational resonance and cultural exchanges. The Wing Tower by Yong Ju Lee Architecture is an installation that depicts a dramatic moment when the fairy left for heaven. This project includes a computer-generated dynamic picture of a revolving tunnel that serves as a means of connecting heaven and earth. As the cylindrical tunnel ascends, it widens up, forming triangles. The rising and separating space portrays the fairy’s sorrowful face and the woodcutter’s sadness

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Wing Tower_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Triangulations in the installation_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

7. Foldable House, Osulloc Tea Museum, Jeju, South Korea

Columnar jointing is a geological feature that results in the production of a regular array of polygonal prisms, or columns, by the intersection of closely spaced fractures. Yong Ju Lee’s “Foldable House” is an attempt to translate this rough and heavy environmental occurrence into a high-efficiency man-made structure. To emphasize its thinness, each surface of a 3-mm metal plate is coated in two contrasting colors: dark grey (natural rock color) and magenta (loud and artificial color). The thin plate structure suggests to visitors the idea of similarity and difference between nature and its interpretation. The hinges at folding edges help easy transportation, construction, and demolition eventually looking into the potentiality of architectural mobility.

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Foldable House_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Interior View_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Folding Mechanism_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

8. Hydrologic House, Seoul, Korea

The Hydrologic House is shaped like an array of traditional Korean door frames, which served as a tool for talking with people and understanding the environment. A continuous dispersion beyond the visual, material, and perceptual limitations of the courtyard area is caught and fixed in the gradient perforation of the facade through computer analytic software. The main area is made up of two boxes. Each box deals with information on two separate scales: global and local (Seoul). Rain is collected via funnels on the roof and sent to the pool below. Fog degree is constantly regulated based on real-time precipitation conditions. Architecture develops supple matrices for inter-environmental information exchange and perception when static and fluid elements are combined.

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Hydrological House_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Interior View_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

9. Mood Map, Seoul, Korea

The mood map by Yong Ju Lee Architecture visualizes Korean people’s moods in color and light using textual analysis of their Tweets on Twitter. A custom Processing application searches and analyses Tweets in the Korean language that express specific emotions or sensations using the Twitter API. Joy/pride, love, fear/shame, wrath, pity, and sadness/frustration are the six major kinds of sensations or moods. Mood Map runs across three different graphic sequences. The first segment shows tweet events in real-time. The second sequence displays aggregate data from two moods during the last hour. The third is a collection of data from one mood throughout the day. This sequence regulates the color intensity associated with each mood/feeling. Each mood is linked with a specific color that produces varying intensity based on real-time data.

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Visual treat_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Real-time analysis_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

10. Singil 5-Dong Community Center, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Korea

The primary purpose of this project is to reconstruct a community service center in Seoul for locals that was formerly reserved for government officials. Locals will find the newly constructed place to be pleasant and appealing, which will aid in their uninterrupted conversation.

Birch plywood and light grey surfaces are used to avoid the weighty mood of a government office. By removing the partition walls that covered the window, horizontal wooden louvers cover workstations and walls, making the area appear larger. Furthermore, the combination of the distinctive texture in the plywood border and small plants creates a warm and pleasant atmosphere in the local community.

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Modified workspace_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Birch Plywood partitions_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

11. SM Town Artium Facade Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea

Being the first SM Town branch and a flagship shop, a futuristic picture was presented on the exterior – a distinctive design that could assist build brand recognition was required.

The three-dimensional design was applied to the facade visible from the sunken space of COEX, as well as the front of floors 1 and 2 visible from the roadside, as well as the columns in the piloti section. Several perspectives were examined, including those from up close and across the street. The pattern composition of “SUM,” which consists of 33 elements, and the material characteristics of glass and plastic materials arouse intrigue and mystery about the facade. The exterior is finished with two layers of glass and plastic. The curtain wall, which was previously merely a vertical side of the existing COEX atrium, has lost its dull exterior and evolved into a one-of-a-kind facade that varies at all times through sparkling, projections, and reflection.

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SM Town_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Striking Columnar details_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

12. Vernacular Versatility, Winner, 2014 eVolo Skyscraper competition

Hanok is defined as the antonym of a western home and the synonym of a Korean-style dwelling. It has its unique timber structural system as well as tiled roofing. The powerful formal gesture is achieved by the edge of Hanok’s curving roofing. To manage the quantity of sunlight that enters the home, the lengths of the roof edge can be modified. The outside and interior of this system expose the form and structure made of wood. The primary structural element is a wooden connection – Gagu – located directly beneath the roof where the column joins the beam and girder without the need for any extra fasteners such as nails. This relationship also marks the style of traditional Korean building that highlights the eco-friendly function and healing effectiveness. Historically, this structural system was designed only in plan and was only applied to one-story residences. However, with the recent development of various modeling software, there are more options to integrate this conventional technique into complicated high-rise structures to fit modern objectives and plans. This idea aims to capture people’s attention and pique their interest in traditional architecture, to gradually infiltrate people’s daily life.

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Vernacular Versatility_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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The wooden connect_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

13. Conflux, COEX, Seoul, South Korea

This pavilion is a geometric translation of “Architecture Conflux,” the major subject for the Student and Young Architect Platform at the UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress. With shifting density, the confluence and divergence of curves on funnel-shaped geometries offer spatial and structural quality. It is designed as a lightweight construction made of a single material, bent plywood. A CNC router was used to cut 340 different-shaped flat pieces with a thickness of 6.5mm. Extensive research in both the digital and real worlds is used to accurately address the intersection between computer-produced design and materiality. When an event takes place, the Conflux Pavilion serves as a stage, and it also serves as a meeting space at other times. Visitors will interpret the unique installation as a focal point in the enormous conference hall.

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Architecture Pavilion_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Confluence and divergence of curves_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

14. Seat, Freedom Park at Atlanta, GA

SEAT is made of around 300 basic wooden chairs that are arranged and piled in a sine wave surface that is pulled into an agitated vortex rising from the ground. It formalizes the change of chairs from separate usable items to structural and spatial components of an ambiguously occupiable structure. The rotational difference in groups zones the structure. Chairs on the near edge are adjusted to provide for an outward sight of the city and its surroundings. Chairs bend inward at the vortex’s base to provide an intimate, compressed place for guests to speak and observe the upward flow of chairs transcending their purpose. Chairs hung above the ground between these zones re-create the sitting object’s role as structure, adornment, and enclosure.

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The seat_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Stacked wooden chairs_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

15. Forest Kindergarten, Seoul

With its distinct look, Yong Lee Architecture’s kindergarten demonstrates the uniqueness of space for children while also energizing the local community. The intuitive design idea is emphasized by undulating timber ceilings and columns at the entry, as well as gradient brick patterns in elevation. From the corridor-like communal areas, classrooms for each age group branch out. Diverse gathering and scattering points with varying ceiling heights, mass volumes, and ambiance in a single structure will support and stimulate their activities. Children may learn and develop their understanding of themselves and their society by actively experiencing varied environments on various dimensions.

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Forest Kindergarten_©https://www.yongjulee.com/
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Play of Spaces_©https://www.yongjulee.com/

References:

  1. “Myeonmok Fire Station / Yong Ju Lee Architecture.” ArchDaily, 12 June 2021, www.archdaily.com/963243/myeonmok-fire-station-yong-ju-lee-architecture. Accessed 30 Aug. 2022.
  2. “Yong Ju Lee.” Www.yongjulee.com, www.yongjulee.com/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2022.
  3. “Yong Ju Lee Architecture.” Architizer, 29 Oct. 2015, architizer.com/firms/yong-ju-lee-architecture/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2022.
  4. “Yong Ju Lee Archives.” Designboom | Architecture & Design Magazine, www.designboom.com/tag/yong-ju-lee/. Accessed 30 Aug. 2022.
Author

Krithika Sivakumar, an architect and psychology enthusiast, delves deep into the workings of the mind and spaces, as well as the emotional influence they have on us. Driven by passion, she zealously wields her pen to voice her views to the world.

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