seoul series VI

It is astonishing the numerous amount of elderly couples I have been seeing in the subway, wearing a complete neon-colour camouflage trekking equipment. Since Seoul is surrounded (rather gobbled up) by hills, its subway system easily reaches any forest at the end of its lines to enjoy nature just half an hour ride from schizophrenic urbanity. So my last wandering in Seoul is going to be natural; I need some greenery. While looking for other Korean architecture blogs, I came up with the project of regeneration of a forest by ludens-ifying it with hidden art installations amongst trees. It’s my place.

Before coming out at a random periphery subway station, I get lost in an interchange, where I suddenly find in the basement 3 a compass rose printed on the floor, north-oriented; a paradox of unguideness in this messy maze of underground staircases. Once outside, I am guided by a beautifully clear drawing that the newspaper-kiosk seller has made in my notebook. And while walking, I start finding aliens in the forest, where people are cheerfully picnicking in, around, above or around…

In this forest I found by sheer chance one of my favourite fetish hybrids: the ramp-stairs: a mix between a diagonal surface and conventional steps, to be used in many forms. Parent and Virilio already exposed the possibilities of freely squatting an oblique surface some decades ago (memories of my architecture master thesis, exactly two Junes ago now!). So before leaving the city, I grant myself with the only two architectural sins in this trip of spontaneous everyday detours; two pieces of open voids where people inhabit and appropriate themselves of a diagonal circulation.

First, another ramp-stairs system by OMA inside a Museum (more elegant than the Chicagoan ones) and staircase outside it, and second, the hole excavated as a plaza/corridor by Perrault at a University campus. While the former is a C-shape covering of an existing uphill circulation between a bus stop and the campus, the latter is a U-shape turning an open-air oblique corridor into a meeting area. I am glad that both cases seem almost more successful in their void condition than the own function of the building beside them.

Exhausted I sit down for a break in a sudden tiny café back somewhere in town, 3.5 m2 big, at twilight, and find a Surrealist illustrated story by Edward Gorey, The Object Lesson, lying also on a tiny shelf; an exquisite dark tale about absences, missed connections, dreams and surreptitious absurdities. Originally printed in 1958, it appeared the same year as other surrealist inventors dreamt of re-reading the city.

Here, the Seoul Series end.

[images 1-4> Seoul Art Park] [image5>compass rose on the floor of the basement 3 of a subway station] [image6> OMA’s Museum of Art, Seoul Nationalal University] [image7> Perrault’s Ewha Women’s University Campus, Seoul] [all images by deconcrete2010]

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