To a casual observer it may look like a microscopic view of a bacterial infection run out of control, but Seoul City Hall is just the latest in a series of buildings that embrace organic shapes.
Towering over the existing Seoul City Hall which dates from 1926, the designs from iArc Architects appear to be perhaps like a glass wave about to crash on its historic stone clad brother. No matter what one tries to read into the design however, it is however based on the shape of eaves in traditional Korean houses and to enhance wind circulation.
With the curving front fašade and diamondesque glazing, this will serve as a dramatic backdrop to the staid twenties foreground with the angled walls and curves creating an axis-free interior, just as Koreans supposedly perceive their own country with its mixture of highlands and lowlands.
Within the building, internal space is organised so that council offices are at the back of it behind what the architects call a "vertical square" where the public can enjoy hanging terraces, with cultural facilities located at the top.
Perhaps the highlight to the building isn't architectural detail but rather one of the winning entries of a public art competition that solicited entries from no less than 63 artists.
Building on what will be one of the escalators for the building as its blank canvas, Jeonsucheon, a professor at the Korean National University of Arts has designed a 14 metre tall sculpture dubbed a meta-narrative. The intention of this is to bring water to life using FRP, aluminium and stainless steel as the materials. The sculpture spurts down from the ceiling, with steel supports looping around the escalators incorporating them into the appearance.
Seoul City Hall is currently approaching completion in the South Korean capital, and will open in May 2012.