The Granite Tower
Dongdaemoon Design Plaza, the Next Iconic Landmark of Seoul
Chang Hae Sun  |
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승인 2014.05.01  14:38:50
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▲ The night view of DDP. Photographed by Song You Jin.
Recently, an intriguingly massive-scale building revealed its splendor at the place which was previously Dongdaemoon Baseball Stadium. This building with a spaceship-like appearance has been the center of enormous attention for the city, community, and most of all, the residents. Having its opening ceremony for Seoul Fashion Week of Spring/Summer (S/S) collection, Dongdaemoon Design Plaza (DDP) officially opened on March 21.
Five years after the Dongdaemoon Baseball Stadium with roughly 80 years of history was pulled down, an atypical three-dimensional architectural work is now situated at the site. DDP was constructed as a part of a project led by Seoul City in order to build a visionary landmark. The DDP has set a new record for its scale both in terms of its physical bulk and monetary expense. The total construction budget has been reported to be 492 billion won.
▲ The official poster for the Seoul Fashion Week S/S. Provided by SFW (
Proclaimed Visions and Expected Effects
The main object that planners have for the DDP is for it to become a cultural complex which functions as a hub for a creative economy. They hope the DDP becomes a public arena in which cultural ideas and contents can be freely exchanged. More specifically, it is focused on the fields of design and fashion, which are major driving forces for an economy based on creativity and imagination. This explains why Seoul Fashion Week of S/S collection and Gansong Cultural Exhibition were chosen as DDP’s opening events.
Seoul Fashion Week S/S, from March 21 to 26, drew its curtains successfully selling off to enthusiastic audiences. Overall, DDP seemed to attain the first step of its grand vision, which is expressed in its catchphrase, “Dream, Design, Play.”
Another important aspect of the DDP is that it incorporates the neighboring community as well as the citizens of Seoul. As seen in another of its slogans, “Design with People,” DDP is quite laudably making efforts to harmoniously coexist with the ordinary yet extraordinary lives of Seoulites. Upcoming plans for amenities, such as a park and library, are expected to promote an interchange of ideas and experience between citizens and experts.
In fact, the DDP has precedents in a number leading Western countries. Pompidou Center in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, and Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City all became iconic landmarks for the cities, successfully attracting both citizens and tourists from around the world. With attractively designed outlook and their own fascinating stories to tell, they continue to inspire dynamic interactions between the surroundings and people.
▲ The portrait picture of Zaha Hadid, the designer of the DDP. Provided by DDP ZahaHadid 360°
From this perspective, DDP is deemed to possess the potential to be the next emblematic landmark of Seoul. With a clever mixture of contents to convey, including its unique story backed up by historical, societal, and cultural contexts, DDP is expected to become a vibrant and captivating space for culture interactions.
Architectural Uniqueness
The architectural concept of the DDP, which  is “metonymy of the landscape,” embodies an idea that seems quite philosophical. As the term “metonymy” refers to a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is substituted for another with relevant, associated meaning, DDP was designed to connote its surroundings. As Zaha Hadid, who designed the DDP, has once mentioned, “DDP itself has become an immense landscape, being contextually blended with the surroundings.”
Hadid is quite an international figure, the first female architect to win the Prizker Architecture Prize, which is as prestigious as the Nobel Prize in the field of architecture. She is renowned for her signature styles of curvilinearity, fluidity, and atypicality and was officially nominated as the designer for DDP after a public architectural design contest.
Her work, the DDP, is anticipated to contribute largely to the Korean architecture and its small
community by introducing experimental yet inclusive strategies for design. As Hadid once famously remarked, “Architecture ought to offer chances to think about what had not been thought before,” the DDP is expected to be an educational experience for many visitors. Basically, anyone who is ready to enjoy DDP from various viewpoints and aspects will gain great value in return for his or her visit.
A Korea University (KU) student Kim Kyu Yeon (’13, Economics), who recently visited DDP to see it for herself, said, “The DDP gave me an awakening experience, both culturally and artistically. By walking around the building, inside and outside, I was able to get refreshed.” Yet, the DDP has been harshly criticized that it will become a huge, hollow shell. There are also voices of concern that the DDP will soon lose its current momentum unless specifically targeted long-term action plans backed up by meticulous follow-up management. This is based on the calculation that DDP’s annual overhead cost is estimated to be 32 billion won, including 12.6 billion for maintenance expense, 9.5 bllion for personnel expense, and 8.5 billion for exhibitionrelated expenses.
However, considering the DDP’s location, which is near to Cheonggye Creek, the City Hall, and Gwanghwamun, it is still to be anticipated to connect itself with other urban systems and settings of Seoul. This way, DDP is very much likely to create larger footprints by positioning itself as a sort of bridge at the heart of Seoul, linking various spots in the city.

This month, DDP is prepared to amuse its visitors with a variety of eye-catching exhibitions and activities: Zaha Hadid 360°, Enzo Mari Design, an exhibition about an Italian furniture designer who won the Compasso d`oro, and Nike Winner Stay, a futsal tournament open for any high shcoolers. So, if you have interest in what is going on at DDP at the moment, it might be worthwhile for you to visit DDP while it is fresh and new. There is no doubt that DDP will have a greater chance to flourish in a true sense with the people’s support. 

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