The design concept for Shinsegae International’s new 15-story headquarters is derived from three themes: fashion —the changeable nature of the facade, and the bespoke and crafted aesthetic of its construction, are a nod to the ever-changing business of fashion; experience—the building can morph and change as users desire, inviting personal engagement with the structure through the physicality of movement; and the unexpected—the building defies the conformity of mid-rise towers by incorporating a fresh visual play of scale, hierarchy and proportion within the design of its envelope.
A new icon in the heart of Gangnam-gu, one of Seoul’s largest districts, the building unites more than five hundred Shinsegae employees, who were previously spread between several buildings throughout the city. The program includes staff offices and meeting spaces, design studios, a rooftop garden and sculpture park, and ground-level retail and restaurant space that face onto a public plaza.
The high-performance custom-designed façade is a direct response to the client’s desire for a corporate flagship that departs from the traditional look-and-feel of modern commercial buildings. Designed to meet Korea’s progressive energy codes, which are more rigorous that the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® standards, the building’s skin incorporates a range of technologies that reduce heat gain while optimizing thermal comfort and maximizing natural daylight all year round. Each component of the gridded façade contributes to the structural fidelity of the building as much as its unique aesthetic, which evokes a sense of woven material or tapestry—a nod to the fashion industry.
This sense of movement and materiality is particularly evident within the first four floors of the building where seven custom eight-foot-diameter steel wheels open and close 35-foot-tall external panels to modulate daylight. The dynamic ethos of the fashion world is captured in these kinetic components, which can move, morph and change throughout the course of the day; each time the panels are engaged, the building’s presence is altered anew.