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Sejong city planner decries new high-rise gov’t building

Dec 04,2018
Zo Hang-man

Zo Hang-man, a professor of architecture at Seoul National University, created the master plan for the design of the Government Complex in Sejong. An international competition for a master plan for the complex opened in 2007, and his submission won.

The idea was a “Flat City, Link City, Zero City” - meaning a city that utilizes sustainable energy, with low-rise buildings connected together for easy access.

A master plan gives general guidelines on how land is to be used and how buildings will be constructed in the area.

The recent international design competition for a new building for the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and Ministry of Science and ICT in Sejong, however, has been criticized for ignoring the master plan.

The competition guidelines given by the hosting organizations - the Interior Ministry and the National Agency for Administrative City Construction - said that the new building should not be under the height limit applied to the other buildings in the complex and should be a pivot of the complex. Such guidelines clearly go against the master plan for a flat and equally-linked complex.

The following is an excerpt from the JoongAng Sunday’s interview with Zo.

Q.What was the original master plan?

The core of the plan was to build a government complex not only for public officials, but also for all the citizens living in the area.

[In the plan,] there would be roof gardens that any citizens and public officials could access. Buildings would be supported with pillars, so that anyone could freely pass through them. Each building would have fewer than eight stories and would be connected to cultural facilities, parks, business zones and residences.

The site for the government complex originally had many low hills. I planned to preserve them as much as possible so that the hills could be smoothly linked to roof gardens on buildings.

It seems like nothing went according to the master plan except for the curvy structure of the complex.

It was worse than what I had expected. When the construction started, all the hills were cut down. Areas surrounding the complex that were originally intended for residences and business zones became parking lots. The complex has been fenced off for security reasons. Access to roof gardens was also limited to certain hours a day. There should’ve been a parking lot below the roof gardens, with cars having access inside the buildings. None of this has been realized.

There is no law that guarantees that selected master plans be carried out completely. It’s very irresponsible to change a design selected through public competition for no particular reason. It’s a huge waste of national taxes.

What design must have been selected for the new building for the Interior Ministry and Science Ministry then?

It is shameful that the design [a high-rise building] was finally selected. The idea of building a tall structure in the middle of the government complex is absurd, as my original master plan limits the height of each building.

It simply doesn’t make sense to open up a competition that distorts the original master plan.

BY HAN EUN-HWA [yeo.yerim@joongang.co.kr]