SPACE Magazine
SPACE Magazine
KB Youth Step

KB Youth Step

Lee Youngsoo + Lee Hyunho + Chang Yong Soon + Lee Kyung Sun + Kim Sooran 

Lee Youngsoo practiced in Olivier Dugas (AAU) Paris, returning to Korea in 1988 to win the Grand Prize in the Korea Institute of Architects Awards. He was vice-chairman in the Architectural Institute of Korea, and President of the Architecture Design Institute of Korea and Korea Architectural Education Institute since 2010. He is the author of Architectural Concert and designed the Industry and University Cooperative Center in Hongik University, and the tourist information center at hongdae district.
Lee Hyunho practiced in James Polshek and Peter Marino Architects for eight years, after which he established Chiasmus Partners which has branches in Beijing and Seoul. He has been awarded prizes by the Ministry of Culture, the Korean Institute of Architects, and the Korean Architecture Award, and designed Incheon Art Center and the Forest Quintet. As the master architect at Kyunghee University, he designed hospitals, university arenas, the College of Oriental Medicine, the College of Science and dormitories.
Chang Yong Soon practiced in Atelier d’architecture Jacques Ripault and Kiohun Architect and Associates and earned his PhD with the thesis ‘Philosophical Foundations of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism’ supervised by Alain Badiou in the Department of Philosophy of Universite Paris-VIII. He wrote The Philosophical Adventure of Contemporary Architecture, a work of four volumes, and designed the re-structuring of the Seunsangga Citywalk project.
Lee Kyung Sun has practiced in Moore Ruble Yudell, HLW International, Gwathmey & Siegel Associates. She earned a doctorate in Harvard University with the thesis “Housing Density in Relation to Low-Energy Design”. She is currently leading SUNe.lab. She is actively conducting research and her practice into focusing on integrated sustainable design and human-oriented architecture. She designed Taean Library; the competition wining project, Seoul NPO Center, Anam-dong community center, Dartmouth College dormitory, Amgen laboratory, among others.
Kim Sooran has gain professional experiences globally at prestigious architectural firms such as KPF, OMA, SO-IL, and Toyo Ito, engaging in diverse types of environmental designs including art installation, interior design, architecture, landscape, and urban design. She has found OURSTUDIO, an architectural practice based in New York and Seoul in 2015 and has since won prizes in various competitions, such as the masterplan of National Sejong Museum Complex and the Renewal of the Bank of Korea Urban Plaza in Seoul.

Topological Publicity

Chang Yong Soon (professor, Hongik University)

The KB Youth Step has transformed the Seokyo branch building of KB Kookmin Bank, designed by Space Group in 1968, into a cultural facility for young people. The site is located at the point where the road connecting Hongik Univ. station and Hongik University crosses the pedestrian friendly route or Juchajang-gil. The area, which used to be the centre of indie culture, is now a commercial zone developed by a new consumer group pursuing new trends, constituted of members of the younger generation and foreign tourists that form a floating population, especially at night and on weekends. The main design concepts can be summarized as follows:

Publicity_ The starting point of this design was the idea that there is no public space offering the convenience of seating when on a walk in this area. This city accommodating of extreme capitalism has even wiped out spots to sit and rest for free. Most European cities have squares, or stairways, such as the Spanish Steps in Rome or the Montmartre stairs in Paris, which stand in as public areas when there is no room for a square. Even at the centre of one of the foremost capitalist cities, New York, a stair-shaped ticketing office in Times Square has been designed to play more of a role than simply a facility or stairway. Such stair plazas can play the role of both an auditorium and a stage in the city. The guiding concept for the small private building of KB Kookmin Bank was to insert a terraced element to serve as a public space near Hongik University. The intention was to make the new KB Youth Step a public space open to the city rather than a closed area, and to let the accumulated capital of the financial institution serve in the public interest rather than for only certain individuals or members. The stair plaza leads to a deck on the third floor and a rooftop stair plaza. A view towards the rooftop stair plaza will lead to the sky, and a downward view of the city from the stairs reveals the roadside trees and urban facade. It reflects our aim of opening the rooftop space to overlook the city one that can be shared by the general public rather than being monopolized by a specific group.

Topology_ Topology, concerned with relations rather than forms, as explored by modern mathematicians like Euler and Poincare and applied to various disciplines by structuralist philosophers like Lacan and Deleuze, provides a means by which one can think about spaces flexibly and connect with them. In this building, topology plays with architectural and urban methodologies to create spatial structures that realise a sense of publicness. I carried out sketch-up modelling in the design of a continuous generating diagram showing that the circulation of stairs is created by a plane in the stair plaza, inserted into the building, is folding and decreasing in size as it goes up from the first floor. Folded to lead to the second floor and folded again to get to the rooftop, the stairs create two indoor stair spaces and two outdoor stair plazas. The stairs create a continuous circulation from basement to rooftop, naturally attracting urban circulation into the building. An ambiguous division of floors mix the spaces and the building is integrated with the city topologically. This idea was greatly influenced by Claude Parent’s idea on the oblique and Rem Koolhaas’ Kunsthal project. It is a topologically satisfactory concept, in that the stairs are connected in succession and create alternate internal and external spaces. Topological spaces connecting a building with the city realise a kind of topological publicity when open to the public and the city, rather than used as a private space.

© Chang Yong Soon
The KB Youth Step has transformed the Seokyo branch building of KB Kookmin Bank, designed by Space Group in 1968, into a cultural facility for young people.

History_ This building was designed by Space Group, the practice founded by architect Kim Swoo-Geun, and which is known to have designed many KB Kookmin Bank offices at the time. This is a memorable place for those who have previously experienced the Hongdae area, even if the architect’s work is not known to them. Although I noticed that the architect of the building was Kim Swoo-Geun’s Space Group after my proposal was adopted, I designed it with the governing concept of conserving the exterior and its traces as I could sense the aura of its modern architecture. In the 20th century, an era of significant development, urban developers made the mistake of demolishing buildings and removing our collective memory. Facing the new buildings on the site of the erased past, city dwellers become frustrated as if their memory had been wiped out. Avoiding repeating the mistake of amnesiac practice, I chose a way of respecting the traces left by history as much as possible. History is to be respected and memory to be preserved by keeping a building’s facade associated with the memory of a city and attracting the urban fabric to create a spatial structure. People can look at the city through the trace and frame of history. The indoor direct stairways, columns, brick walls and floors are also preserved to allow visitors to experience the traces of the past.

The stair plaza, reaching from the first floor to the second, has been planned as a place for events, and as a space in which people can take a rest, use as a meeting place, or perform various activities such as busking and street performances.

The stairs create a continuous circulation from basement to rooftop, naturally attracting urban circulation into the building.

Flexibility in Programmes_ The stairs can be used for a variety of purposes such as performances, lectures, seminars, a book cafe, a resting place, and so on. The flat space behind it can be used as an office, seminar room, classroom, meeting room, exhibition room, or cafe. The idea of a continuous stairway supports the notion that the flat space should be as much functional as flexible, because the staircase is a very strong element. The left side of the building, which is not covered by stairs, retains the prior ATM and has a small office, while the flat space on the second floor can be used as academy room and seminar room. Flat spaces behind the stairs feature a cafe and reception area on the first floor, a two-storey-high exhibition space on the second floor, and a multi-purpose space resembling a seminar room by using flexible partition wall in the basement to accommodate various programmes. The indoor stair space, equipped with a foldable screen, can be used not only as a performance hall and theatre but also as a book cafe, resting place, and reading room. The outdoor stairs and rooftop space can become a place for various purposes and uses, such as contemplation, relaxation, performance, busking, parties, among others, all realising the concept of inviting the liveliness of the city into the Hongdae area. We expect the dynamic stair plaza to act as a stage for numerous unexpected or unplanned events.

A view towards the rooftop stair plaza will lead to the sky, and a downward view of the city from the stairs reveals the roadside trees and urban facade. It reflects our aim of opening the rooftop space to overlook the city one that can be shared by the general public rather than being monopolized by a specific group.

Architect: Hongik University of Architecture – Lee Youngsoo + Lee Hyunho + Chang Yong Soon (architectural planning) + Lee Kyung Sun + Kim Sooran
Execution architect: Sidam Architecets – Kim Shiweon, Kim Taeho, Lee Ungjae, Jun Boungcheol, Jeong Yoojin, Im Jegyun, Kim Sooyeon
Interior architect: Studio SAII – Yoo Sanghee, Song Eunyoung
Site manager: Choo Jiin (KB Kookmin Bank)
Location: 345-9, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Programme: office facilities
Site area: 921.3㎡
Building area: 521.45㎡
Gross floor area: 1,261.83㎡
Building scope: B1, 3F
Height: 12.95m
Parking: 4
Building to land ratio: 56.6%
Floor area ratio: 104.5%%
Structure: reinforced concrete
Exterior finishing:STO, born tile
Interior finishing: paint finish on gypsum board
Supervision: Sidam Architects (Kim Shiweon)
Structural engineer: CGSPlan
Mechanical and electrical engineer: Sungwoo EME
engineer: Hitecepc Co., Ltd.
Construction: Ean R&C
Design period: Dec. 2016 – Mar. 2017
Construction period: May 2017 – Apr. 2018
Construction budget:3.99 billion KRW
Client: KB Kookmin Bank


edited by Park Sungjin | photographed by Lee Namsun(Unless otherwise indicated) | materials provided by Chang Yong Soon

tag.  public areas , stairs
no.607 (2018.June) 
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