SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, September 11, 2019 – The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it will host “Open House Seoul 2019,” a special program of the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (“Seoul Biennale”), from September 20 to 29. The program will be run in cooperation with the non-profit civil organization “Open House Seoul,” which has hosted the program every October as a connected program with the open house programs held in 45 cities around the world.
Under the theme of “Another Territory of Seoul,” the Open House Seoul 2019 allows citizens to visit the rarely accessible spaces at six foreign embassies in Korea.
In an era when diplomacy is getting more important than ever, it is meaningful that this program opens the door for citizens to explore and experience the “spaces for international and civilian exchanges” that date back up from the latter era of the Joseon Dynasty to modern and contemporary days.
For example, the British Embassy in Korea was built 129 years ago and is the oldest embassy in Korea. The French Embassy, designed by Kim Chung-up, the master of Korean modern architecture, is praised as a masterpiece of modern architecture in Korea. Officially opened in May this year, the Swiss Embassy is a modern architecture having key design focuses on Korean traditional style house hanok and yard madang. The U.S. Embassy is Korea’s first architecture built in the traditional Korean style of architecture. The Canadian Embassy used birch trees and mountains as its design motifs. The Egyptian Embassy reinterpreted Rosetta Stone which is the key to open the window into ancient Egyptian history.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government will also open the spaces where missionaries used to engage in civilian exchanges in modern times, which have not been usually opened to the public. They include the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Yongsan Seminary, the first Catholic seminary in Korea.
Also, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will run a tour program that participants are allowed to see the spaces in the Royal Palace for international exchange used at the latter era of the Joseon Dynasty, in the areas of Deoksugung Palace, Jeongdong and Sajik-dong. They include “Dilkusha,” known as the house of Albert Taylor who first broke the news of the March 1 Independence Movement to the outside world; and the site of the Sontag Hotel which was the first modern, Western-style hotel in Korea built in 1902 by German Russian Antoinette Sontag and used as a central place for social exchanges among Koreans and foreigners.
The “Open House Seoul 2019” program has 11 sub-programs that will be provided around 40 rounds for the citizens. Architects, professors, embassy officials, and other experts will explain the historical stories and cultures in each venue.
The 11 sub-programs consist of six courses to visit foreign embassies as the contemporary international exchange spaces; two courses to 100 years old catholic churches as the modern international exchange spaces; three tour courses to the Deoksugung Palace and the royal diplomatic spaces as the international exchange spaces, and Jeongdong and Sajik-dong.
Besides, “Visit Yourself” (information on self-visit) and the ambassadors’ interviews are posted on the Open House Seoul website to share the meaning of the event and to provide a chance for visitors to make their tour courses.
First, the “Open House of the Embassy and the Embassy Complex” course unravels the stores of architecture and spaces of each embassy with the explanations of an embassy official or architect. Six embassies in Korea will participate: that of Canada, the UK, Egypt, France, Switzerland and the United States.
|French Embassy (1962)
Photo provided by Kin Jung-up Architecture Museum
|Swiss Embassy (2019)
Photo provided by Hélène Binet
|British Embassy Complex (1890)
Photo provided by the British Embassy
|U.S. Embassy Complex (1976)
Photo provided by the U.S. Embassy
|Egyptian Embassy (2001)
Photo provided by Unsangdong Architects
|Canadian Embassy (2009)
Photo provided by the Canadian Embassy
▲ Photos of the Embassies can be downloaded from the link below:
– The Canadian Embassy: It used Canada’s birch trees and mountains as its design motifs. At the time of building it, an episode about their efforts to protect 520-year-old locust trees tells us their nature-respecting attitude. The tour will be held directly at the Canadian Embassy.
– The British Embassy: It is the oldest embassy building in Korea, having been being in its place for 129 years. It is said that King Gojong invited a British architect to build the Seokjojeon Hall because he was fascinated by this building.
– The Egyptian Embassy: Completed in 2001, the building of the Egyptian Embassy was designed by architects Chang Yoon-kyu and Heerim Architects and Planners. It reinterpreted Rosetta Stone which is the key to open the window into ancient Egyptian history. Architect Chang Yoon-kyu and Ambassador Hazem M. Fahmy will guide the space of the Embassy.
– The French Embassy: The French Embassy is the first one to be opened to the public. It will join the program in the name of “French Cultural Heritage Day.” During the morning programs (9:30 a.m. & 11 a.m.) on September 20, the Ambassador Philippe LEFORT, who was newly appointed and came to Korea in September, will attend and greet the visitors by himself. Designed by Kim Chung-up, one of Le Corbusier’s disciples, the French Embassy was completed in 1961 and has been considered a masterpiece of modern Korean architecture. It is set to be renovated next year, so it will be the last chance to see it. Visitors can also hear about Mass Studies’ new renovation plan. The tour will be guided by Director Kang Jun-gu of Mass Studies, Professor Jeong In-ha of Hanyang University, Curator Jeong Da-yeoung of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Curator Ko Eun-mi of the Kim Chungup Architecture Museum.
– The Swiss Embassy: Officially opened in May this year, the Swiss Embassy is a modern architecture having key design focuses on Korean traditional style house hanok and yard madang. Visitors will have a chance to see reinterpreted hanok in a modern way and the space made by Switzerland’s leading installation artists and artists. It is also an eco-friendly building as the most recently built embassy. Principal architect Lee In-ho of Erae Architects and Professor Yeom Sang-hoon of Yonsei University, who designed the building of the Embassy, will guide the tour.
– The U.S. Embassy: The Habib House, built in 1976, is the first of its kind built in the style of traditional architecture of Korea among the U.S. Embassy Complex. With its square structure, the interior design is mixed with Korean and Western styles.
Second, the “Open House of 100-Year Cathedral” course consists of open house program and tour program to the places for international exchanges in modern times, such as missionary bases and educational facilities used by missionaries during the enlightenment period.
Visitors will see the open house for the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, completed in 1902, and Yongsan Seminary, the first Catholic seminary in Korea. And they also visit the Seoul Anglican Cathedral (build in 1926), which has recently emerged as a healing space in the city.
|Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Yongsan Seminary (Seongsim Memorial Hall)
(The Chapel built in 1902, the Seminary in 1911)
Photo by the Society of the Sacred Heart
|Seoul Anglican Cathedral
(Partly completed in 1926, totally completed in 1996)
Photo by Kwangjang Architect Environment Research
Third, the tour program consists of three courses: the Deoksugung Palace, Jeongdong and Sajik-dong, as the diplomatic space of the royal court.
More information on the Open House Seoul 2019 program can be found on the website of the Seoul Biennale (http://www.seoulbiennale.org/2019) or the Open House Seoul website ((https://www.ohseoul.org/). Applications can be made after signing up for the Open House Seoul. Those who have a ticket for the Seoul Biennale or get stamps from the exhibition hall are only allowed to enter the individual program. All programs are free of charge, however one should pay the deposit when applying that will be returned after the program.
Mayor Park Won-Soon said, “It will be an opportunity for the citizens to visit and see the spaces where were not so easily accessible even though many important international exchanges have been made.” “Through this special program, I expect that many citizens are able to have a new experience of architecture, space and cities while touring international exchange spaces of the end of the Joseon Dynasty, modern, and contemporary times.”
※ Please understand that the Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Yongsan Seminary are open to the public, however media coverage is not allowed.
※ Media Inquiries:
Ahn Jeong-yeon, Urban Space Improvement Bureau, Seoul Metropolitan Government (010-3847-4291) or Kang Eon-deok, Open House Seoul Secretariat (010-8933-2052 / firstname.lastname@example.org)
※ Photos for the press publication can be downloaded from the link below.
Overview of the Program
Schedules of the Program
● Open House Program
(* The program is subject to change according to the Embassies’ situation. Please refer to the program website before you visit.)
|Subject||Program||Schedule||Guided by||Max. Number of Participants|
Another Territory of Seoul,
Open House of the Embassy
|French Embassy||Sept. 20: 09:30, 11:00
Sept. 21: 13:30, 14:45, 16:00
Sept. 22: 09:15, 10:30
|Curator Ko Eun-mi, Professor Jeong In-ha, Architect Kang Jun-gu, Curator Jeong Da-yeong||25*7 times|
|Swiss Embassy||Sept. 21: 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30||Architect In-ho Lee,
Professor Yeom Sang-hoon
|Britain Embassy||Sept. 27: 15:00 – 17:30
|U.S. Embassy||Sept. 29||Embassy||TBD|
|Egyptian Embassy||Sept. 28: 10:00, 11:00||Architect Chang Yoon-kyu, Ambassador Hazem M. Fahmy||25*2 times|
|Canadian Embassy||Sept. 28: 16:00, 17:00, 18:00
(Free entrance during the opening hour)
|Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus & Yongsan Seminary||Sept. 21: 13:00
Sept. 22: 13:00
|Professor Kim Jeong-sin||25*2 times|
|Seoul Anglican Cathedral||Sept. 24 -28: 14:00
|Architect Kim Won, Priest Joo Nak-hyeon||25*6 times|
● Tour Program
|Subject||Program||Schedule||Guided by||Max. Number of Participants|
|Spaces of international exchanges of the Royal Court in the end of Joeseon Dynasty, Open House||Morning Walk,
Spaces of international exchanges of the Royal Court
|Sept. 28: 09:30-11:30
Sept. 29: 09:30-11:30
|Professor Woo Dong-seon||25*2 times|
|Civil exchanges in modern times||Morning Walk,
Spaces of international exchanges in Jeongdong
|Sept. 28: 10:00-12:00
Sept. 29: 10:00-12:00
|Professor Ahn Chang-mo, Professor Seo Gyu-deok||25*2 times|
Spaces of international exchanges in Sajik-dong
|Sept. 22: 10:00-12:00
Sept. 28: 10:00-12:00
Sept. 29: 10:00-12:00
|Ph.D. Yeon-kyeong Lee, Ph.D. Kim Hana||25*3 times|