Regular FeaturesPeople/Yonseian
Doubt Is BeautifulAn interview with Choi Moon-gyu, an architect of passion
Nah Noo-ree  |
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승인 2007.02.24  23:53:06
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Choi Moon-gyu(’80, Dept. of Arch. Engin.)

IN INSADONG, there is a street in the air, a street leading to the open sky. Ssamziegil, a combined structure of a street and building, offers its visitors a pleasurable walk through the ramp to the rooftop. It was an ardent wish of Choi Moon-gyu(’80, Dept. of Arch. Engin.) to create an extension of Insadong Street, one of a few remaining pedestrian-friendly streets in Seoul. The Yonsei Annals had an impressive talk with Choi, the architect who designed Ssamziegil.

Annals: Could you tell us the philosophy of your architecture?
One of the concerns in architecture is whether to allow what has been present or to question it and try to create new forms. I, however, think it’s critical to question every single thing that exists in this world. In lectures, I often tell students my motto “Le doute est beau,” which means “Doubt is beautiful.” Another concern is, of course, safety. Buildings must not have any obstacles for the people who occupy them.

How do you usually find your inspiration for architecture?
Not only books and artwork but even the most trivial aspects of my daily life inspire me. When walking along the streets or sitting alone, I always ask myself; “What’s the purpose this building? Why did they design it like that?” Most people just live without questioning the undoubted. Only by questioning, can you discover new aspects of ordinary things in life.

How did Ssamziegil and I Like Dalki come into being?
When I started the Ssamziegil project, I first took common spaces into consideration. On the outside of a building, there are streets where people pass by and those streets are open to everyone who wishes to be there. Inside, however, the space is occupied exclusively by those who are authorized to be in that place. I wanted to combine these two different kinds of space together in Ssamziegil. As for  I like Dalki, I wanted to create a theme park where the building itself can approach children directly. It’s a “have-fun” place designed to absorb children’s curiosity.

Most buildings in Korea are said to be lacking unique features…

  I like Dalki  

I think it’s a prejudice to regard foreign buildings as superior to Korean ones. Most Koreans have a great notion that the forms of buildings in developed countries are the models we have to pursue. However, it’s quite wrong to make such a comparison without taking into account of all the different histories, backgrounds and geographical conditions of those countries. Seoul, I believe, has lots of features that can be viewed as beautiful to foreigners. A deeper understanding of what we already have is far more important than simply copying or comparing.

What were your days in Yonsei like?
As a college student, I led an exciting life. I came to school at seven to swim. I read a massive amount of books and studied a lot. I loved my college years because I could study whatever I liked. After finishing my lessons, I usually remained in the library until eleven at night. I also took part in lots of contests and hung around with my friends.

Any message to Yonseians?
   I wish Yonseians could become more curious everyday and question everything more often. These days, the world spins with success and students tend to live only with settled answers. I wish they read more and contemplated things more deeply.

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