• Landmark IFC Seoul reinvigorates city’s financial hub

    4 July 2013

    Seoul’s Yeouido financial district has received a massive injection of life and is on course to be a major attraction to locals and visitors seeking retail therapy and entertainment options following the recent opening of the new US$2.2 billion IFC Seoul. The development of IFC Seoul is a partnership between American International Group and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 

    kitmindotcom-DSC_4272Designed by internationally-acclaimed architecture firm, Arquitectonica, and promoted as “the first large-scale development in Korea”, the 500,000 square metre development, which includes IFC Mall Seoul, IFC Office Towers and Conrad Seoul Hotel, is set to add a new dimension to an area of skyscrapers that until now have simply turned out the lights at the end of the business day and offered no reason for anyone to remain there at night. Now however, 21st century design has arrived and with it the reinvigoration of the Yeouido district.

    kitmindotcom-DSC_4316“The complex is a new hub for the financial, securities and insurance companies concentrated in Seoul and features three international A-grade commercial office towers, a five-star hotel, three-level luxury retail mall, megaplex cinema complex, fine dining and drinking establishments and significant new outdoor public spaces,” stated Arquitectonica founder, Bernardo Fort-Brescia. Further complementing the project is that fact that it is located at the centre of Yeouido Island andwill serve as a major pedestrian link between the subway station, Riverside and Yeouido Plaza Park and will become a destination in its own right.

    Comprising three 29-55 storey office towers, a 434-room 5-star hotel, and a major underground retail mall with connections to public transport systems, the overall design purposefully emphasises the efficient circulation between the towers and the mall, while also uniting the individual buildings set amid the surrounding lush, green environment.

    “The tower forms are derived from efficient rectangular floor-plates with shallow chamfers at the corners,” continues Fort-Brescia. “This has resulted in the creation of an image of seemingly dynamic crystals rising up from the ground and forming a unique image against the Seoul skyline. This image is also consistent with the area as the city’s financial heart and the image of crystal-like structures immediately conveys prosperity, success and wealth.”

    Inspired design

    kitmindotcom-DSC_4786Drawing inspiration from the Asian landscape and the steep, jagged mountains shrouded in mist that are featured in paintings so familiar to the world, IFC Seoul’s four vertical towers were designed to convey the appearance of monumental crystalline outcroppings that have been shaped by the forces of nature, each with their own erosion pattern.

    “One of the challenges faced when designing a modern business development is always how to remain expressive while also addressing the issues of efficiency and adaptability,” continues Fort-Brescia. “Then there is also a requirement to realise that the contemporary workplace should engage the city, while also offering places for human interaction, and this project was designed to achieve all of these goals.”

    The overall project comprises three office towers, ranging in height from 176 metres to 284 metres, and a 434-room, 5-star hotel at a height of 196 metres. The towers flank a central boulevard with drop-off court and also face the park, with the tallest tower anchoring the centre of the site. Each office tower immediately engages through the inclusion of a grand glass canopy entrance, while a dedicated drop-off court with an impressive water feature demarcates the access point to the hotel.

    kitmindotcom-DSC_4849.retouchedThe glass towers have been chiseled with mathematical precision to create prismatic forms that accentuate the interplay of light and shadow on the glass façade. They also embrace a green commons area that forms the heart of the complex, while at either end of landscaped parklands two glass pavilions mark the entrances into the three-level underground retail mall with direct access to the Yeouido subway station.

    During the daytime, the central spine of the mall is lit from large skylight structures enclosing the entry pavilions and forming an angular, dragon-like figure that crouches at the southeast corner demarcating the subway entry.

    The figure sinks below the plaza level, tracing a serpentine path above the retail circulation path, and re-emerges in a grand flourish over the central atrium beneath the entry plaza. At night the glass atrium casts a soft lantern-like glow throughout the site and also becomes something of a beacon for the city, beckoning visitors to this new landmark structure.

    Intelligent office towers

    kitmindotcom-DSC_4286_retouchThe IFC office buildings offer a variety of different working environments suitable for a range of organisations through the provision of efficient and flexible spaces. Expansive floor-to-ceiling glass and ceilings that are almost ten feet high bathe office spaces in natural light while also providing uninterrupted, panoramic views across Yeouido Park and the Han River to the mountains beyond.

    Each building incorporates new levels of intelligent-design, providing a modern, state-of-the-art, technology-enabled environment for optimal business performance by all tenants. These include advanced passenger and service lift systems, flexible air-conditioning, dual power supply, and a comprehensive communications and information technology infrastructure. Generous bay depths of more than 42 feet from elevator core to the perimeter wall further ensures the efficient use of space, while a raised floor provides flexible cable management throughout the building. Sustainability was a key planning consideration in relation to the design of each building and this has resulted in high levels of energy efficiency, a must in new 21st century design.

    Conrad Seoul Hotel

    The 434-room, five-star Conrad Seoul Hotel is located in one of the four towers in the IFC complex. The lobby of the 38-storey hotel is flanked by a 36.5-metre spiral staircase that connects the lobby through to the fifth floor. It also features a sequence of escalators and elevators that circulate guests and visitors within the hotel and to the mall below.

    Design-driven, standard rooms within the hotel are a spacious 48 metres in size, while the penthouse boasts a luxurious 228 square metres in area.

    This new landmark hotel in the Korean capital also features a range of conference rooms, a ballroom, state-of-the-art health club and spa, and rooftop restaurant and bar. IFC retail mall below is linked with all the office towers and open spaces within the complex, as well as providing direct access to Seoul’s underground subway network. Restaurants and shops line the pedestrian paths leading to the lowest level of the mall where event courts occupy prime locations directly below the skylit entry pavilions. Restaurants, a food court and multiplex cinema complete the entertainment component.

    Outdoors a series of dedicated “outdoor rooms” infuses the centre with energy and vitality, while landscaped features include spaces for outdoor events, urban plazas with alfresco dining, an esplanade intertwined with art installations and lawn for quiet relaxation.

    A sculpture garden and esplanade also offer an outdoor gallery for exhibiting works by renowned artists. Public benches, stone steps, urban outdoor furniture and café-style seating areas further encourage public interaction and inject colour and life into the plazas.

    IFC Seoul has reinvigorated a formerly lacklustre business and financial district into a new destination through the application of thoughtful and sustainable design that has also set the benchmark for future developments.



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