Every three years, the Union of International Architects (UIA) holds the UIA World Congress in various countries, inviting renowned professional architects to share their vision, latest projects, and design processes to create an exchange of architectural knowledge among practitioners and future leaders. This 2017, the congress was held at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul, South Korea from September 3rd until the 10th. With this discovery, numerous architecture students from the University of Santo Tomas attended this inspiring event.
“Soul of the City” was the theme of this year’s congress which promotes the importance of having souls incorporated in the architecture of a city we reside in. The talks revolved around the theme of architecture wherein invited architects show their techniques on how they improve the character of a city and how crucial it is design a city when one’s soul is unique to the point that it must be differentiated from the rest. They believe that the success of reviving the soul of a city is by manipulating culture, nature, passion for the future of a community. To achieve a revitalized city, one must exploit the state of the soul and body. In another perspective, planning must have a deeper root, design comes with growth, add innovations for a touch of something special and the result is a beautiful seedling that one must be maintained, nourished and loved, just like how we should for our city.
In the idea of finding ways on how to improve our country’s current state, the experience of flying to Korea and listening to talented and amazing architects was invigorating. Inspiring lectures were composed of keynote speeches, forums, seminars, special sessions and the symposiums. There was this lecture from Patrik Schumacher where he spoke of Zaha Hadid’s career since she began creating ideas of creating architecture in a large scale and her concept and philosophy towards innovations were stimulating. Their practice is strongly focused on using these concepts for design to go with the existing landscape. Now, the “style” of Parametricism is introduced to us as the new modernism. It’s like art, which is created through the expressions and feelings of an artist but it also allows its observers to think about what it tells us, ponder on things that makes us feel. We can only understand art and why it is when we know the intent but we all have our own opinions to oppose. The idea of Parametricism can be used as a solution to various problems when planning a project. Its physical appearance, the expression it creates, grasps how things work in ways of functionality and it is also important for how the users of this development will feel. This style may be opposing to many but it is considered to create a different environment when one understands.
Winy Maas from MVRDV also gave an interesting lecture about their take on forming cities and how these coexist with nature. The way they spoke of their projects had me in awe especially when he spoke of one of his projects in Rotterdam. He said that we should take everything as an object of innovation and this can be very true because there are endless ways on how we can improve a city even if it takes years to develop. His project was to create an arboretum that stores archives of different plant species at a park in the middle of the city. He wanted to allow people to have a different experience with architecture and something they can interact with inside and out. One of the strategies was to create an optical illusion by using reflective mirror as the material of the exterior façade to reflect the landscape in front of it. Not only will the structure reflect us but it symbolizes the reflection of city’s culture. There is a lot of information that you can acquire just by listening to their design processes and seeing them flash slides of their works and results that will make you say, “it’s all worth it.”
As we walked around the large hall, we saw exhibits worthy of exploring and observing such as the stunning large-scaled models and various displays of projects, models and manufactured materials from business firms.
We also had the opportunity to roam around and meet with the representatives of the international firms like Samoo that had the most wonderful booth display of their projects and exchange conversations with other companies. Archinet took the opportunity of attending this event to learn more about how architecture works and how it can help improve our community for the better future.
We were able to meet, converse and take photos with some of the prestigious architects that gave interesting lectures during the congress such as Toyo Ito, Winy Maas and Kjetil Thorsen. We also received a lot of free architectural books and magazines from various firm and college booths from around the world. While we had spare time, we explored around Seoul and various architectural sites such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Plaza, Bukchon Village and the beautiful underground parks in the middle of the city that made us fall into the soul of South Korea.
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