Climate-Controlled Skyscrapers in Seoul

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By PSFK / Published by Dwell
Our friends at PSFK fill us in on Dutch architecture firm UNStudio's plans for climate-responsive towers in Seoul, South Korea.

By Ross Brooks

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UNStudio's proposal for the Hanwha headquarters in Seoul features a responsive facade that will be used to control the indoor climate during the day, and come alive as a dynamic light show during the night.

UNStudio recently unveiled their plans to transform the headquarters of South Korea’s largest conglomerate, Hanwha, into a shining example of sustainable design. The building’s responsive facade will be used to control the indoor climate during the day, and come alive as a dynamic light show during the night. Apart from reducing solar gain, and increasing natural light, the exterior will also be able to generate energy.

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In place of the previous opaque panelling and dark glass, UNStudio will install insulated glass and aluminum framing to increase the amount of natural light and reduce overall energy consumption.

The facade’s design is "guided by the surroundings, influenced by nature and driven by the environment," which means the geometry of the design and the building’s orientation in relation to the sun were all taken into consideration. In place of the previous opaque panelling and dark glass, UNStudio will install insulated glass and aluminum framing to increase the amount of natural light and reduce overall energy consumption.

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Photovoltaic Cells, of which Hanwha is one of the world’s largest producers, are built into the facade where they can receive optimal energy and harvest the most solar energy possible.

Photovoltaic cells, of which Hanwha is one of the world’s largest producers, are built into the facade where they can receive optimal energy and harvest the most solar energy possible. In combination with the features above, UNStudio’s design "significantly impact the interior climate of the building, improve user comfort and ensure high levels of sustainability and affordability," said Ben van Berkel, founder of the studio.

As for the animated lighting of the building’s exterior, it will respond to the media activities on Hanbit Avenue below, while individual LED lights, will highlight areas of activity within the headquarters. This pixelated lighting not only forms part of Hanwha’s overall branding strategy as an environmental technology provider, but also the environment itself.

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"The design for the Hanwha HQ media facade aims to avoid an overstated impact," says UNStudio founder Ben Van Berkel. "In the evenings, as the mass of the building becomes less apparent, the facade lighting integrates with the night sky, displaying gently shifting constellations of light."

Van Berkel describes this idea in more detail: "The design for the Hanwha HQ media facade aims to avoid an overstated impact. In the evenings, as the mass of the building becomes less apparent, the facade lighting integrates with the night sky, displaying gently shifting constellations of light."

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A detail of the towers' facade.

In order to deliver the best results, UNStudio has also been working closely with Arup, who was the sustainability and facade consultant, Loos van Vliet, the landscape consultant on the project, and agLicht, who advised on the lighting.

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