Paul Smith Seoul

In 2009 Paul Smith opened this incredible store in Seoul, South-Korea, which still is one of the most interesting designs we’ve seen in a long time. Considering the fact that the store is located in Seoul’s densely built Gangnam-gu district, Paul Smith has succeeded gracefully in making a lasting imprint within the urban environment. The extraordinary shape of the building is open to all interpretations, depending on the unique perspective of each customer or even by-passer. The suggested figure, intended to create different stories depending on people`s perspectives and interpretations, was actually the result of a design that was constrained by legal regulations and the ever-demanding Paul Smith, who at times must have driven the architects, Chanjoong Kim of the Kyung Hee University and Taek Hong of The__System Lab, insane by being just as demanding as the state’s strict rules. The result is nonetheless or because of these extremely difficult preconditions an incredible building, reminding of the work of the master Antoni Gaudí or even the Dutch artist Joep van Lieshout. Unfortunately the store is now closed, but its beauty and story remain.

Due to the volume that exceeded the initial floor area ratio, the oblique 30-meter line limitation imposed by the road and the constrictions created by sunlight rights, we had to create a concrete shell with maximized floor area ratio within the legal regulations by rounding, cutting or connecting all the edges. Eventually, we were able to add one more layer. Through this method, emphasizing succession rather than completion, we were able to create a relatively spacious building compared to other buildings in the neighborhood, even after we maxed out the floor area ratio and building coverage.

In order to establish a concrete shell reflecting succession it was decided to employ, for the first time ever, curved Styrofoam blocks using an NV cutter as concrete moulds. Compared to manipulating plywood moulds by correction, this method was significantly more cost-efficient. The semi-gloss industrial paint finishes are expected to conceal commercial and structural devices and imbue freer and pleasant feelings to viewers-much like a typical design from the masterful fashion designer himself.

Inspirational architecture studio The__System Lab believes that architecture is not just an act of building properties, but to mold the user’s lifestyle into a given space. Their approach for every project resolves around budget, duration as well as thorough research and analysis on the user’s lifestyle, brand identity and insights. In order to realize the construction technology and emotional value required by the modern society, the architecture studio always succeeds in creating practical design through the latest digital design and fabrication technology, of which the new Paul Smith store is a perfect example, as the bold decision to use the curved Styrofoam block might just a new standard setting technique initiated in the project.

For more work by The__System Lab see here.