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Megacity Network Contemporary Korean Architecture (2007.12)

Megacity Network
KIM Sung Hong

In KIM Sung Hong & Peter Cachola Schmal Eds., Megacity Network : Contemporary Korean Architecture. Berlin: Jovis, 2007, pp.42-59.

One of the major challenges that contemporary Korean architecture has been facing in recent decades has been to simply keep pace with rapid industrialization and the corresponding densification of its major urban center, the megacity known as Seoul. Rather than fighting against the enormous pull of influence the capital city wields today, leading-edge Korean architects have begun to realize that it is through the megacity and its network of influence across the country that a new vision and identity for Korean architecture is made possible.  

Looking at the skylines of tall buildings in Korea today, it is hard to believe that it was one of the world’s poorest nations only half a century ago. From a global economic perspective, the past 50 years in Korea constitutes a measure of progress that exceeds the advances of its entire 5,000-year history before that. Today Korea sits at number one in the shipbuilding industry, number three in information technology, and is the 11th strongest economic power in the world. Still, South Koreans tend to undervalue what they have achieved so far, perhaps because they still identify with a humbling past, pertaining partly to their own internal politics but even more so to the geopolitics of the region.

Korea has long sat in the shadow of two superpowers: Japan, which colonized and occupied Korea between 1910 and 1945, and China, whose import of communism spawned the war in Korea from 1950-53 that continues to divide the country today. In earlier times, Korea had acted as a land bridge through which Chinese culture was filtered, assimilated, and then disseminated in Japan. The cultural identity of Korea was long obscured to the Western world, hidden away and sometimes distorted as a sub-classification of either China or Japan.

Historians have long hypothesized that Korea’s trials of domination and marginalization in the region had forged a profoundly aesthetic culture of simplicity, serenity, moderation, and harmony. At the end of the 19th century, Korea was known as the “land of the morning calm,” as well as the “hermit kingdom” to European travelers. The description had the negative connotation that everyday life was uncivilized, dull, and sluggish.  Today’s Korea, finally in plain view of the world, shows that in fact the opposite is true. The country and its people can be best characterized as intense, fast-moving, and multi-dimensional, and probably no other physical manifestation embodies these new-found characteristics as much as Korea’s urban architecture.


It is incontestable that a major influence on Korea’s contemporary urban architecture has been the rapid increase in population in the capital city. From the 14th century until the Japanese occupation in 1910, Seoul’s population was no more than 300,000. After the Korean War, however, the population took off. There were 1.6 million in 1955, 3.5 million in 1965, 8.4 million in 1980 and over 10 million in 1990. Housing construction could not keep up with the accelerated demand for more physical living space. An urban planner calculated that, between 1960 and 1980, about 800 people moved into Seoul every twenty-four hours, meaning that on average a 20-story apartment had to be built each day.  Today Seoul has become the quintessential Korean city and a symbol for the nation itself. It has become the world’s most populated city, surpassing Sao Paulo and Mumbai in 2006 . Approximately half of the total population of South Korea resides in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, with about half of that, or over ten million people, living in the capital city proper. This concentration is twice that of Tokyo or London. In fact a comparative study of six world cities—Seoul, Tokyo, London, Paris, New York, and Los Angeles—showed Seoul to have the second highest population density behind Paris, while having the second lowest building density of typical high-rise residential areas and downtown renewal areas next to Los Angeles.  The disparity between population density and building density indicates that Seoul’s urban density is the highest of all, creating tremendous pressure on spatial intensification, amplification and verticalization of architecture.

The average parcel size in Seoul is only 267 square meters. This is about three times the size of a typical apartment unit. While the average building height in Seoul is comparatively low—only about 2.5 stories—this figure is bound to continue to rise, since land prices have been skyrocketing. A typical parcel adjacent to a major street in Seoul can cost at least $6,500 USD per square meter, and a parcel in prime areas such as Kangnam can reach $16,500 USD. To compensate for the rising land acquisition prices, developers and clients need to pursue the maximum FAR (floor area ratio). A new building must be larger, higher, deeper, and more complex. Urban development on a moderate scale is no longer tenable, as profitability usually demands the complete demolition of existing buildings and the surrounding urban fabric. The result is a unique urban landscape, with one-story traditional timber structure houses standing side by side with 20-plus story office buildings or apartment complexes. An office building in Seoul today typically has at least six floors below the ground level—about one third of its total floor area—which is mainly used as parking space.

It is an accepted fact in Korea that the lifespan of a building is shorter than that of a human being. High-rise apartments built less than 30 years ago are being demolished and built again to sustain higher volumes. The four satellite towns on the outskirts of Seoul that provided residences for over one million people—the so-called bed towns— were planned, constructed and occupied within 6 years. From the 1970s, the rapidly growing need for apartments near the city led to a boom in the construction industry, which in turn was the driving force to rapid industrialization. By 1997, just before the foreign exchange crisis, the construction industry occupied 15% of the total GDP, twice as large as in the United States. Most of the major construction companies became chaebol, conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai, and Daewoo, supplementing their domestic profits by conducting mammoth construction projects in the Middle East.

Morphological Monotony

While the mission of Korean schools of architecture in the 1970s and 1980s was to produce true architects of vision and creativity, the construction market absorbed the majority of graduates. The architecture of the time may have been superficially ‘arty,’ but in reality was virtually synonymous with ‘construction.’ An architect was not distinguished from a mere draftsman and was even regarded as a building engineer.

A first glimpse from the highway that runs from the airport along the Han River captures high-rise apartments on both sides, like an alleyway into the city. Once off the highway and onto the major streets, the view changes to retail buildings of two to five stories completely clad with signboards. These two predominant building morphologies, the APT (high-rise apartment) and the Keunsaeng (mixed commercial building) reflect the sense of standardization and plainness prevalent in the construction industry.

The APT, a series of repetitive stacks of concrete slabs, is the Korean version of Ludwig Hilberseimer’s social dwelling, and has rapidly replaced single-story detached houses within the last 50 years. Apartments occupied over 30% of the total building floor area in Seoul by 2000. As of 2005, households who live in apartments comprised 52.7% of the population, and 54.2% in Seoul.  Part of the impetus for this growth is the strong conviction among Koreans that the purchase of an APT unit is the main way to achieve and sustain wealth. This is despite the fact that the average cost of a two-bedroom unit within those complexes—no more than 85 square meters—is close to a half a million US dollars in Seoul. Renting as such is still not a real option in Korea, as traditionally the renter is compelled to provide a deposit of up to 50% of a unit’s value as the main rental fee.

The Keunsaeng occupied more than 14% of the total building floor areas in Seoul as of 2000. It consists of vertically and densely stacked retail spaces, embracing all types of functions from the secular to the ecclesiastical. Not uncommon would be something like a Karaoke bar in the basement and a Protestant church on the top floor. These buildings, which run along both sides of major streets, conceal irregularities in urban fabric behind the street. Together the APT and the Keunsaeng cover almost half of the total floor area in Seoul. They seem to be visually different, yet they have similar spatial logic. They are neither traditional, colonial, modern nor postmodern seen from the Euro-American architectural perspective. They are the mixture of plainness, banality, and hybridity.

The mixture of the Keunsaeng and the APT can mutate into a mega-structure that affords as much expandability as the physical site permits. Piccadilly, a 33,000 square-meter underground cinema complex, is built on a 4,000 square-meter parcel surrounded by small buildings in the old urban center. The building has 7 underground floors which go down 30 meters to accommodate all the theaters, creating horizontal and vertical labyrinthine circulation.  Another example of the mega-structure is the Yongsan Train Station in Seoul. It expanded to 272,000 square meters, 200 times larger than the existing station. Only a quarter of the funding was public, and consequently the actual terminal only takes up 10% of the site space. The rest is for the commercial structure consisting of department stores, malls, and parking.  The bus terminal complex named Central City combines a 34-story hotel, a department store, shops, leisure and entertainment facilities, two subway stations, underground parking and a bus terminal. This 430,000 square-meter complex is literally an enclosed city in itself. The Tower Palace, a 69-story upscale high-rise apartment and retail complex, is an architectural icon for an exclusive community of people whose wealth and social status was gained in a short period of time. The 980,000 square meter complex houses more than 3,000 units on a 72,000 square-meter site. It is an isolated urban island surrounded by 40 wide boulevards.

The intensification, amplification and verticalization of buildings has been a great opportunity for the construction industry, but has left architects with few voluntary decisions besides massive destruction and calcifying preservation. For several decades, the tectonic, morphological, and programmatic rupture between architecture and urbanism was unfortunately not the subject of rigorous debate and inquiry amongst architects.

Linking With the Past

For modern-day Korean architects this rupture is impossible to ignore. Nor can they dismiss the importance of keeping abreast of the important developments in architecture worldwide. Still, in order to forge an identity in architecture that one could properly call Korean, it has long been believed that the most crucial ingredient is finding a way to bring forth traditional Korean architectural morphologies and integrating them into modern structures and the present day Korean reality.
Traditional Korean timber structures with pillars, beams, and brackets came over from China before the first century A.D., and were developed, refined and used in every type of building on the Korean peninsula. The inherited timber structures were combined with ondol, a system that supplies heating from under the floor. This tectonic combination had a vertical limitation because the heated floor was restricted to the ground level. Up until the early twentieth century, when the brick and concrete frame structures were imported from the West, there had not been any mid-rise urban building in Korean cities. There were tall palaces, temples, pagodas, and pavilions, but all buildings were one story in terms of livable floors. The cities appeared completely flat to Western visitors. In this regard, any originality in traditional Korean architecture was concerned more with urban morphological variation than with architectural typological innovation. In other words, while the vertical structural principles were strictly standardized and institutionalized, the horizontal configurations had great diversity and flexibility in the formulation of building complexes, especially important in Korea’s mountainous terrain. However the modern Korean landscape presents a challenge that is even more complex than an uneven topography, and it is this: as hyper-density requires a high level of vertical flexibility lacking in the traditional earth-clad timber structure, is it possible to modernize traditional Korean architecture and transform horizontally distributed structures into vertical cities, so that Korean architecture today can find that link with the past?

The question is more complex than it might seem. The Korean word for ‘modern,’ keundae, was borrowed from Japanese and as such is conceived by Koreans as something ambiguous. While it represents enlightenment, civilization and urbanity, it also brings to mind subordination and unfulfilled hopes under atrocious colonizers. Modernism was understood more as the classical revivalism that the Japanese adopted and experimented with in its occupied territories than the European modernist movement which culminated in the 1920s. All this accentuates the distinctive rupture in the architectural history of Korea between the pre-colonial and post-Korean war period. The latter period saw for the first time the notion of ‘architect’ distinguished from carpenter, mason and artisan subordinate to Confucian aristocrats, who looked at building-making as simply a matter of technique. Modernism in post-war Korean architecture began on the twofold path of pursuing an emphatic break from any legacy of Japanese architecture, and an attempt to absorb the doctrines of the European modernist movement. Soon after, in the 1960s and 1970s, the plea to reinterpret ‘tradition’ identified as the pre-colonial heritage and to infuse it into modern structures gained momentum. However, the capacity to fully reconnect to the past has tended to fall short of expectations, as it has mainly been expressed as an iconographic revival of the timber structure or a mere replication of traditional typology.

The Forerunners
There were a few architects, such as KIM Swoo Geun (1931-1986) and KIM Jung Up (1922-1988), who understood the dilemma between the specificity of local culture and the generality of the modern architectural movement in terms of fundamental spatial and tectonic considerations. KIM Swoo Geun’s major achievement was transforming the intricate horizontal relationship between interior and exterior space and the materiality of timber structure into the sectional configuration of vertical building morphologies. His own office in Seoul, the Space Group Building (1971), is the best example of the fundamental inversion of the spatial logic of the traditional house. He also extended architecture towards other visual arts, music and drama, and by doing so he helped to distinguish architecture as art rather than simply a set of building and construction techniques. He was an icon of modern architect under the 30-year military dictatorship, and in 1977 Time Magazine called him the “Lorenzo of Seoul.”  

While KIM Swoo Geun tried to eliminate figurative elements with external references and return to more abstract geometries, contemporary and rival KIM Jung Up boldly experimented with the plasticity of architectural form. His reinterpretation of the tripartite composition of timber-roof structures in the formal language of Le Corbusier (who he practiced under) was acclaimed as one of the true innovations of modern Korean architecture. It was best demonstrated in his French Ambassador Building that was erected in Seoul in 1960.

While their accomplishments are not to be understated, neither of these two fabled architects or their contemporaries could really transcend their time and bring architecture to bear fully into the realm of ordinary citizens and everyday urban life. Instead of developing their ideas through collaboration with planners, technicians and legal experts, they extended their individual and imaginative capacities to their limits primarily on the architectural object as such. Architecture remained restricted to narrow groups of institutional and cultural elites who distanced themselves from harsh urban realities. At the same time, military leaders exploited architecture as a tool for fabricating their cultural policies and legitimizing their regimes. The banality of everyday architecture was thought to be compensated by the particularity of the architectural masterpiece. The buzzwords ‘symbol,’ ‘monument,’ ‘tradition’, and ‘landmark’ were prescribed into every design brief and guideline for public building. KIM Swoo Geun himself was caught up in the turmoil of iconographic nationalism. His design of the Buyeo Museum was publicly criticized for its visual resemble of Japanese architectural motives. And so at this time, modernism was still fundamentally perceived as a move away from colonial and Confucian culture.

The Next Generation

This left the next generation of architects to face the deep schism between architecture and urbanism, for the forerunners were not able to fully absorb the twin process of industrialization and urbanization that modern architecture confronted. American education had a powerful influence on the separation of two lines of inquiry, the micro-scale architectural disciplines and macro-scale urban planning disciplines. If architecture represented isolated points in the city, urban planning was concerned with the lines running madly towards the city limits. The mayor of Seoul in 1966, who was called Korea’s Baron Haussmann, once said tersely, “city is line.”  He pointed to a city government that could barely afford the minimum infrastructure, including roads, to follow the unbridled suburban expansion and urban redevelopment. The first City Planning Act was established in 1962 to positively facilitate compulsory acquisition and redevelopment. However the first Building Regulation was also established the same year, negatively restricting and controlling architectural objects. The pedagogical and practical separation between architecture and urbanism became deeply rooted in these regulatory systems. There was no comprehensive regulatory system and educational model to bridge the gap between these two realms. The concept of urban design, consolidating urban block, parcel, and buildings, was not employed until the 1990s.

The year 1993 witnessed a reemergence of civilian government after 30 years dogmatic, uniform military culture. In association with the emergence of a new government, architects opened their eyes to social injustice and their responsibilities therein, tackling issues such as the lack of public space, housing for the underprivileged class, and the commercialization of urban space. Many circles and associations were organized, but they were self-enclosed in that participants maintained solidarities based more on their common educational and practical background than ideological and intellectual grounds. These social movements quickly faded as the major patronage for architecture moved from the government to private sectors. As the market became differentiated, architects adopted new strategies for survival.

From the mid-1990s, the third generation of architects began to develop an alternative form of practice. Although there was a reaction against the paternalistic, individual and heroic model of the second generation represented by the two KIMs, the new generation recognized the power of the ‘star system’ in architecture. The predominantly younger faction of this generation, who were educated in European and American institutions, experienced how strongly intellectual and academic activities were linked to media celebrity and had an impact on cultural capital. They tended to maintain small-scale studios and experiment with new ideas in the classrooms. The other faction gravitated more towards the large corporate offices. In association with emerging housing and real estate development, these architectural firms continually expanded by maximizing money, man-power, and marketing strategies. These two architectural practices became more polarized as time went on. As of 2006, single-employee mini-firms occupied more than 47% of the total registered architectural firms in South Korea (3,364 firms), while the mega-firms each employed more than a thousand architects. In the global economy most of the mini-firms barely survive while the mega-firms compete to attract corporate clients to support their practices. This polarization is a direct reflection of the incongruence between pedagogical aims and practical realities.

But this plight is not unique to Korea. The blurring of theory and practice, private and public, culture and commerce are general symptoms in every capitalistic society in the world today. It is the coexistence and confrontation of Academicism and Futurism that Reyner Banham once diagnosed as the main affliction of modern architecture. What makes these issues distinctive in Korean architecture are the ways in which they are more immanently related to the combination of hyper-density and the acceleration of communication through the explosive usage of information technologies. Under these conditions, the new generation of architects is less obsessed with the burden of reconciliation between tradition and modernity. Instead, they understand the problems and issues they face are not qualitatively different from their Euro-American contemporaries, where there is an increasing asymmetry in the market in favor of the private sector. Korean architects today depend mainly on the patronage or wealthy elites and corporations. Many chaebols prefer to hire high-profile international architects, and Korean architects also have commissions in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

It is perhaps part of the maturation of Korean architecture and culture in general that Koreans are beginning to rise above what Dipesh Chakrabarty called the “inequality of ignorance” , the conception that other traditions still need to refer to their works in Europe and demonstrate something regional, vernacular, and indigenous, while Europe do not feel the need to reciprocate. Global architectural trends are becoming less something that Korean architects are being influenced by and more something that they are a part of. And in their own part of the world, Koreans are also gaining a general conviction that they are more intellectual, dynamic, flexible, and culturally adaptive than their old neighbors and competitors, Japan and China. The recent success of Korean films is one of the examples of this emerging confidence.

The Challenges of Today

In the daunting shadow of a megacity like Seoul, the first challenge imposed upon Korean architects is to integrate architectural and urban morphologies within the context of hyper-density. Previous models of holistic urban planning, abstract modernism, quasi-humanistic postmodernism, and even the second-generation lessons brought on by KIM Swoo Geun and KIM Jung Up no longer really apply. In hyper-dense conditions, urban architecture tends to be multifunctional. It cannot restrict itself to single conventional typologies such as the clinic, church, or karaoke bar, which often all need to be accommodated in a same building. The fundamental morphological elements—room, matrix, corridor, and so forth—form a kind of deterministic part of a building. However, when several heterogeneous morphologies are combined horizontally and vertically to make one envelope, junction or buffer spaces are inevitably formed. There is market pressure to minimize this indeterminable (un-rentable) space to maximize determinable (rentable) space. While indeterminable space occupies about 30% of the total floor area in a typical high-rise office building in Seoul, this ratio rapidly drops as the size of building becomes smaller. Interestingly, it could be this indeterminable space that provides the potential for fundamental spatial innovation in a dense and complex building. When these interior junctions are linked to multilevel outdoor spaces, they could become a strategic urban place, a kind of epicenter, having ‘ripple effect’ for unprogrammed interactions and the natural maintenance of mutual awareness.

The second challenge is to explore tectonic possibilities that go beyond the stylistic and iconographic limits of the manipulation of surface form. The stereotypical ‘wet-process’ of reinforced concrete and the wasteful abuse of ‘caulking’ applied in most buildings have eliminated the craft of joints, and have reduced the materials to mere dressing. If Korean architecture is to forge a real identity, it must diversify its construction techniques and materials. The dream to reinterpret the unique Korean timber structure abandoned for the last several decades—the combination of the heated floor ondol and the wooden floor malu—is still alive in the hearts of many Korean architects. The question to answer is how to transform the traditional sectional configuration—the reinforced base at the bottom, the relatively reduced façade in the middle, and the overhanging roof at the top—into more sophisticated vertical profiles that nonetheless retain some of the poetic qualities of the past.

The third challenge runs more along the social and economic axis. How can architects intervene and participate in the formation of moderate-scale programs of everyday urban architecture when their livelihood comes mainly from designing mega-structures for corporate patrons and small-scale structures for cultural elites? From a social perspective, it would seem worthwhile for design professionals to work with community groups and city officials on the premise that physical patterns of the city can only be understood in connection with the social space, heretofore mainly ignored as the indeterminable space between private structures. Having suffered from colonialism, communism, and military dictatorship, Koreans are overly guarded in conceding and negotiating private territory, while being most tolerant to encroachment in the public realm.  (new quotation) If architects can regain an active involvement in the urban programme, then perhaps they would indeed become an important influence on the development of the megacity rather than simply being a cog in a wheel caught in an endless cycle of production and consumption.

The Exhibition

Megacity Network is the first joint exhibition outside Korea of contemporary Korean architecture conceived and organized by Korean architects. Sixteen representative architects will each present two of their best projects within the backdrop of the unique socio-spatial nature of Korean cities. This will be complemented by the work of another architect whose photography captures the rapidly emerging urban landscape. Participants range in age from their forties to their sixties and are the principal architects of an array of firms from small studios to large corporate offices. All the projects were built in the last ten years in Korea. The projects do not clearly fit into any one functional classification, but are rather mixtures and hybrids of conventional typologies: a single-story house, a weekend villa, a large scale commercial and residential complex, a shop, an office, a corporate headquarters, an art gallery and museum, an information and media center, a cultural center, a hospital, a community library, an educational institute and dormitory, churches, recreational facilities, a convention center, a sport dome, and a participatory design and construction project. All seventeen architects delve into the three thematic spheres of challenge—tectonic, programmatic, and morphological—although with different degree of emphasis.

YOO Kerl employs his tectonic audacity to challenge the convention of religious and educational typologies by exploring spatially innovative alternatives for churches and educational institutions. KIM In Cheurl uses an exposed concrete surface as a strategic tool to make a inside-outside transformation of polygonal space both in a local government building and a residential and retail complex. CHO Byoung Soo, one of the forerunners in experimentation with the poetics of tectonics, designed a village and retreat as an alternative to the megacity lifestyle, blending simple geometries and heterogeneous materiality with hilly natural surroundings. CHO Nam Ho’s tectonic experiments focused on the technical-structural, as he explored the sectional combination of the post-lintel reinforced concrete, traditional floor heater, and wood frame roof. HWANG Doo Jin challenges the meaning of contemporary in the context of the historic areas within the modern megacity, by exploring the creative restoration of timber structure houses that incorporates advanced functionality such as wireless Internet.

CHUNG Guyon treats two contrasting programs, a small-town library for underprivileged children and a cosmetic museum for the privileged cultural elites in Seoul’s new business district. By playing both social coordinator and choreographer of the metaphorical landscape, he reinstates the architect’s dual role and responsibility. YI Jong Ho tried to overcome the ‘architecture as monument’ trend prevalent in the last several decades and emphasizes the sense of place in two different programs, one for a most ephemeral and lightweight pavilion and the other for a memorial museum that reflects rather than transcends its milieu. JOO Dae Khan spearheaded an organization that voluntarily participates in the resurrection of coal-mining towns and farm villages abandoned by rapid urban migration. He demonstrated a new role for architects by working to transform typologies based on climatic and economic considerations.

KWON Moon Sung reflects the irregular grain of Seoul’s urban fabric in two remodeling projects, one in a residential area and the other in a busy commercial district. He searches relentlessly for architectural alternatives that address the disparity between the densification promoted by market pressures and existing low-density conditions. LEE Chung Kee looks closely at the expanding multifunctionality of the Protestant church in Korea and tries to lay claim to architectural autonomy alongside the backdrop of a hybrid urban landscape. KIM Young Joon experiments with the treatment of voids in two contrasting programs and urban conditions. Where in conditions of hyper-density in a new town hospital the void provides opportunity for the hybridization of multiple programs, in a film maker’s residence at an art village at the outskirt of Seoul it facilitates the blending of inner and outer functionality.

CHOI Moongyu actively engages in the emerging cultural industry and uses a programmatic dilemma as the driving force towards spatial innovation. Samziegil is a bold experiment of promenade architecturale within one of the oldest urban areas in Seoul. CHO Minsuk explores diverse new sectional morphologies for vertical buildings in hyper-dense urban environments. Starting from a grid sectional condition, his design evolved into a ‘skipped matrix’ format in a commercial building and a ‘missing matrix’ in a residential building based on legal, functional, and aesthetic requirements. YOO Suk Yeon juxtaposes and overlaps transpatial and spatial velocities and movement, creating architecture that serves as a transitional territory between an urban oasis (inside) and an elevated railway (outside).

The SPACE Group, headed by LEE Sang Leem, maneuvers between individual creativity and collective efficiency in dealing with and corporate patrons as well as the cultural elite. Two large-scale projects demonstrate the critical need to balance this dichotomy in Korea’s harsh urban architectural market. JUNGLIM Architecture, a longtime competitor of the SPACE Group, uses its combination of organizational strength and individual expression to refine corporate practice in the exquisite designs of a large-scale conventional center and a museum dedicated to a newly uncovered stream in the city core.  

AN Se Kweon records photographically the quickly disappeared monuments that maintain our collective memories of the city’s past. The contrast of massive high-rise apartment buildings and slums, of demolished elevated highways and the restored creek breathtakingly dissects the urban realities of Korea.

Megacity Network is a spatial metaphor and methodological device that takes a cross-section of the spectrum of contemporary Korean architecture and shows its relatedness. While each project appears randomly distributed in urban and rural areas, this exhibition will attempt to cast them into a web of interconnectedness with the megacity in the epicenter, where ideas are born and disseminated throughout the land to challenge architectural stereotypes and promote innovation.