SPACE Magazine
SPACE Magazine
A New Korean Platform for the Young Architect

SPACE has recently strengthened its focus on public art, architecture exhibitions, and competitions. The global economic crisis and the lack of architectural projects are not new problems with no obvious solutions, so the idea was to introduce new architectural attempts and seek other kinds of approach. The Young Architects Programme (YAP) is a programme exemplary of such goals. The YAP has been held in Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) PS1 since 1998 as a gateway for young architects, as a chance for their work to receive attention from a worldwide audience. Since 2000, it has expanded to Chile, Italy, Turkey, and for the first time to Asia, as it opens in Korea this year. The Modern Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA), Hyundai Card, and MoMA worked together on the YAP. Out of the 26 teams that were recommended in March, the project team Moon Ji Bang’s Shinseon Play was elected and was revealed on the 8th of July. This issue, SPACE analyzes the YAP as a platform for young Korean architects to break into the global market. We will also look at how it acts as a pavilion project that creates a new urban placeness.
by Shim Youngkyu | photographed by Shin Kyungsub

Why We Should Focus the YAP

The YAP, which began in 1998, is one of the most well-known gateways for young architects. Since 2000, it expanded into YAP International, and attained a larger role in architecture. After 15 years since establishment, it has maintained a stable system that is able to produce countless architects, and also functions as a global network.
The MoMA’s YAP, the original YAP, opened in the PS1. PS1 is located in Queens, New York and the ‘PS’ stands for Public School, and it means it is the first public school. It is an art gallery created through remodeling a public school building built in the 18th century. The Warm Up Party, celebrating its 17th anniversary this year, is held annually in the PS1, with planned music performances and DJing every Saturday. During the party period, the work of the YAP winning team is displayed outside the building, as well as the blueprints of the five finalist teams.
Since 2010, Chile’s Constructo in Santiago was the first to participate in the Young Architect Programme International (YAPI). The Constructo was created by architects Jeannette Plaut and Marcelo Sarovic, to create a network to facilitate the research and support of Latin America’s architecture, design, and art. From 2012, the YAP expanded to accept submissions from the whole of Latin America. In 2011, Italy’s MAXXI, National Museum of XXI Century Arts participated in the YAPI, and it is unique in that it also accepts operating systems. The Istanbul Modern Art Museum participated from 2013, and it is a national art museum established in 2004. It holds the YAP once every two years. Starting this year, for the first time in Asia, the YAP will be hosted in Korea’s MMCA.
YAPI’s fundamental goals and operating system—discovering and introducing young architects—and the process of recommendation, evaluation, and selection is similar in every country. About 50 nominated local professionals select 20 to 40 young architects and recommend them to the art museum. Out of these architects, the jurors select the five finalist teams, and each team presents their blueprints. The jurors have a final discussion and select the final winner. However, the revealed pavilion and detailed aspects are different in each country. This is because the locations where the pavilion is set up have various characteristics and the situations in the countries are different. In the case of the United States, the MoMA PS1 is located in a pedestrian precinct and is a place for parties in the summer. MAXXI has parties and movie screenings. On the other hand, Korea’s MMCA front yard is a completely open space that serves as a resting place for the public. It has a very public characteristic. In the case for Istanbul, its architectural base is not yet widespread enough, so the YAPI is hosted once every two years.
The YAP as a New Platform

The YAP comes off as a challenge and a process of experimentation for young architects. This is because it doesn’t stop at blueprints but moves on to actual construction. The young architect award also exists, but it is far from the YAP because in the YAP, the architects are allowed to actually work on construction projects and can internalize the process of architecture. Also, the architect can be known around the world through the MoMA brand, and travel the world for exhibitions. This is why the YAP needs to properly be established in Korea and more programmes like it need to be created. Also, it needs to advance into a Korean platform fit for our circumstances. Pippo Ciorra (head architecture curator, MAXXI) stated, ‘We plan to promote the themes and concepts that we progressed in Korea to an international audience’. Pedro Gadanho (architecture curator, MoMA) suggested that Korea’s strong expressions in pop culture, and its deep mythologies and history, will merge together with the YAP and create Korea’s own distinct YAP.
Other similar platforms, other than the YAP, need to be established. The Korean Culture and Art Committee is holding a pavilion project in Daehangno, and the Seoul Design Foundation, which manages the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), is also recommended to young architects to work on DDP’s temporary facilities. Additional attention from various governmental agencies and local governments is still needed. MMCA, along with architects, is also managing the This Year’s Young Artist Award programme. Park Geuntae (curator, MMCA) explained; ‘We’re not viewing architecture as a single field of work, but we are dissolving boundaries between different fields and we are viewing architects as young artists as well’. MAXXI also has a similar programme. Ciorra added that ‘We hold a 24 hour beach architecture project. The act of building something is very important. We also provide opportunities that actually develop into exhibitions, for young architects as well’.
These sorts of events become festivals for the architectural communities. Works that don’t make the cut are also displayed together. The MMCA exhibition had familiar names as well as names never seen before. It is a place where one can view various works, not just that of the winner but of the losers as well.
For the YAP to properly set its roots in Korea, it needs a just system, a more open contest, and a transparent selection process. Park Geuntae explained that ‘The decision to manage the YAP for only three years was made due to Hyundai Card’s involvement in the project. The scale of the project can expand according to the results.’ The winner Shinseon Play actually improved during the construction process from the initial concept. The stairs extended to the hallway and the method of the water fountain also changed, and overall it was improved from the blueprint.
Through heightened attention to detail, the method and standard of receiving recommendations and portfolios of architects needs to be clearly stated. It was the YAP’s first year in Korea and the method and standard wasn’t clear and many participants were confused. Young architects do not have an extensive portfolio of works, and it is important that they are aware of the standards when they are working on collaborative projects. Also the fact that the jurors focus more on public projects rather than residents also needs to be clearly notified.
The MoMA has achieved its intended goals for the 15 years it held the YAP: ‘In this year’s Venice Biennale, you could see the traces of many young architects that made their debut through the YAP. An exhibition that displays both star architects and young architects is a great opportunity to discover new up and comers’, said Gadanho.
Creating a New ‘Place-ness’ through Urban Pavilion
The pavilion that the YAP sets up is fundamentally temporary and affordable. What is important, however, is that there is the possibility of expanding it into an exhibition. Examples of setting up pavilions would be the Monumenta of Paris and London’s Serpentine Pavilion. It is an important aspect of pavilions that various events programmes are created in the pavilions.
The reason for Shinseon Play’s selection was its Korean interpretation and innovative design. The concepts of publicity and a ‘resting place’ were approached through the notion of a garden. The work seemed to present a moment of calm in a dry city. With various intentions, that were different from each other, more interesting and exciting suggestions were made, and the final work became something that can be differentiated from works of New York, Chile, or Rome.
The project team Moon Ji Bang’s Choi Jangwon stated, ‘We wanted to created a more dreamlike space that didn’t exist in real life. We wanted to create a space where people could come and rest, and we thought that the placeness of MMCA’s front yard was very important’. Ciorra and Gadanho both said that the work expressed poetic concepts in a Korean fantasy. The garden seems like a paradise with its harmony of the fog and shadow. MMCA and Shinseon Play meet to create a unique placeness as a new Korean platform.
Also the environment in which the work stands and its stability is important. Choi Jangwon explained that ‘Using raw technology is used to control the temperature and humidity of the garden, and the surface is wide in contrast to the low material usage’. On the opening day, the weather started to get cloudy and the work got along better with the surroundings, and on a sunny day it provides a cool space. Through the mixture of the fundamentals of a pavilion.shade, resting place, and water.the YAP must become fully established as a programme that expresses the shade (rest), resting place (event), and water (chance) of the young architects.
Shinseon play

Architect: Project team Moon Ji Bang (Choi Jangwon, Kwon Kyungmin, Park Cheon kang)
Location: MMCA, Sogyeok-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Consultant: air baloon structure - ABR(Kang Dongwoo) / wood structure: JITO (Lee Haegoo) / landscape architect: Goo Bobae, Garden in Forest Co., Ltd (Kwon Chunhee) / lighting - LIMAS (Kwak Kyehnyung) / mist system - Core Link(Han Insub)
materials provided by Project team Moon Ji Bang

Revealing Architecture under a New Light by Supporting Emerging Architects
Pippo Ciorra, Pedro Gadanho
On the 7th, before the YAP’s official opening, SPACE got together with Pippo Ciorra and Pedro Gadanho for a discussion. They are architecture curators who work internationally, and are also architects and critics. Through the discussion, we were able to talk about the hardships that young European and American architects are facing, and how to support such young architects. We also discussed the methods of architectural curation and how to display architecture in a new fashion.
interviewed by Shim Youngkyu | edited by Ro Seongja
Currently many countries outside of Asia suffer from a severe lack of large-scale projects for architects. This has given rise to a number of alternative programmes for young architects. What do you feel is the root cause of such a shift and the difficulties suffered in the US or Europe?

Pedro Gadanho (Gadanho): Regulations. I feel that there has been a divide between the field of architecture that has become more corporate and commercial fuelled by the pure need for financial survival, and a very small sector that has turned on to a more artistic practice, that needs to have exhibitions and curatorial perspectives and also opportunities for visibility. I think the young architects programme, like that of the Serpentine Pavilion and other similar programmes precisely address that field in which art history is a late concern in contrast to a world that has become more commercial. So I think regulation definitely pays into every aspect. The fact that everything is more and more concerned with safety and different rules, I think in the States there is greater division between schools that teach people to be experimental or artistic facing a world that has nothing to do to that, and so they succumb very easily, because they don’t have the pragmatic tools to deal with such a world. There is a huge break between what schools provide in terms of young architects, and suddenly you need different sets of tools for market and architecture. So in the way that YAP exists, allowing some groups to maintain an experimental edge, means they don’t just succumb.

Pippo Ciorra (Ciorra): Whereas it goes with a medium range and experience, It’s very different in Europe, in that you only work on renovation, but in Asia you are designing new cities, and in America, young architects are like artists, and these different interests are not addressed enough by architectural education, so maybe this is another field in which we can work. If you have a critical device you get much closer to art. Maybe the teaching of architecture is more or less standardized across the world.

For the YAP to settle well and continue in Korea, a number of conditions are required. Is this more in terms of differentiating between global networks, or specialization in another sense?

The programme is characterized by three aspects; one is what Pedro was saying in terms of the approach of the architects, the global commission. The second is the museum’s approach to the summer event. NY parties, Rome parties and performative video or film screenings, nearly everyday. So funding for programmes and construction is important too. Third, is the nature of the space itself. PS1 has a specific prescriptive space. MAXXII has the Zaha Hadid’s cantilevering on top of a private space, but it remains public. Here it is completely open. The way you combine these three elements can bring different conditions. The MMCA will have an opening party more like a vernissage. The task for us is to emphasize the role of the museum as an open public space, and here that is natural.

Gadanho: After the first year, the MMCA will have to understand what their main interests are when using these installations to provide a specific programme during the summer. In terms of the nature of what people propose, Korea is very different from NY. In NY the last three or four years reflected ecological concern and concept. Here, there is a deeper relationship with cultural identity. Combining aspects of popular culture, which are very expressive, with the relationship with Korean mythology and history; that was invigorating and interesting. This doesn’t mean that next year will be the same, but rather that one can address more. A space that can be appropriated by the people. A lot of reflections on new materials is what can provide different situations. So the building becomes a way of experimenting with new ideas.

Public art or pavilion projects are useful platforms to foster young architects, particularly when administered by government or corporate funding. Are there any alternatives to these?

Gadanho: I have an example from a project that we had many years ago in Lisbon at a biennale. The city government was redoing these car parks, renovating some blocks, leaving the facade and leaving just the car park behind. So we proposed a competition among young architects to integrate this space into the city and offered hybrid programmes. It gathered real momentum behind young architects to become part of the city, and there are programmes, that are not necessarily public art, but rather how you framework them, so young architects can provide their creativity. Picking up an infrastructural programme to think about it in a more conceptual way.

I agree it cannot be only installations and public art, it has to be more to do with the act of building. In Holland in the 1990’s, there were one million dwelling projects.

Currently, there is no such profession as an architecture curator in Korea. Evermore scarce are those who have a balanced opinion in critique, practice and theory. What type of circumstances or personal efforts must go into stabilizing such a post in Korea?

In Portugal, my generation is the first generation of people who decided to engage in cultural production as a way of representing architecture. So its no longer the more traditional role of the architect or of editing a magazine, but promoting debate and organizing events as a way of architecture. And of course the reason why it came about was because the architecture culture had matured and had generated sufficient discussion for it to be necessary.

I think it is a terribly delicate question. If you look at the avant-garde in the museums, they will tell you that an architecture curator means nothing. Because you have curators and they manipulate architecture, art photography, whatever. Which can be a problem for us. Secondly, I think this obssession with curating has become a disease. Italy is not that far off. Because I am the only architect who has a position, in the only museum dedicated to architecture. Young architects try to do exhibitions, but I think it is important to give the culture, which is around architecture and around other disciplines, to do projects and exhibitions. We can see what comes out of it, rather than academizing the role of the curator. It will become so boring in the end. We need to give young people opportunities. A museum like the MMCA could have programmes for young curators. Perhaps for one or two exhibitions. I think that is more important to test people’s attitudes. To communicate about architecture, through exhibitions, is the task. Curatorship as a discipline I don’t know what it is. As Pedro says the name comes after the practice. So maybe I’m a little old and conservative about this. I am scared of this obsession with the curator. In Italy the best architecture exhibitions on the history of architecture have been done by architects, journalists, historians. So we have a tradition of a architects putting on exhibitions. But for me, an exhibition is probably is the synthesis of all my writing, criticism, and an opportunity to turn it into a multi-dimensional communication mechanism.


tag.  YAP Korea , Shinseon play , Moon Ji Bang
no.561 (2014.August) 
Tag your thoughts about the Article !
The Spatio-Temporal Politics of Panmunjom
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The Passing of the Act on the Division of Design and the Supervision of Small Scale Buildings and the Future Ahead
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We Present You with Your House
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An Economic-Evaluative Meaning of the Korean DMZ
Reaching for an Unforetold Ignition Point: Gwangju Biennale ‘Burning Down the House’
A Travel Destination Created by Architects, Boutique Hotels
The Possibilities, Limitations and Future Prospects of Student Architectural Organisations
The Value of the DMZ from an Ecological Perspective
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