A Study on Non-western modernity of Surface Phenomena in Korean Commercial Architecture

한국 상업건축 입면현상의 비서구적 근대성에 대한 연구

  • 이상헌 (건국대학교 건축전문대학원)
  • Received : 2011.10.31
  • Accepted : 2011.12.09
  • Published : 2011.12.31


Korean commercial architecture is based on two distinctive characteristics of western modern architecture: grid frame structure and free facade. However, the original facade of the building disappears as numbers of commercial advertisements and signboards representing inner programs cover up the original facade. This is a unique feature of commercial architecture in Korea which I would call the surface phenomena of Korean commercial architecture. Common criticism on this type of building is that too many and too big signboards infringe upon the original pure facade of the architecture. Underlying assumption here is that signboards and commercial ads are inessential and decorative elements simply attached to the original pure facade of modern architecture. However, in this paper, I argue that commercial decorations is an essential aspect of korean commercial architecture rather than an inessential decorative element attached later to the essential facade of architecture and that it reflects the historical specificity of cultural and architectural modernity of Korea And thus, the surface phenomena of Korean commercial architecture should not be judged based upon the aesthetic paradigms of either western modern or postmodern architecture. Rather, it can be argued that surface phenomena of Korean commercial architecture is a reflection of a modernity beyond the paradigm of western modernism and postmodernism. The agenda of Korean commercial architecture is then not simply to restrict or to control signboards on the building facades with the intention to clean up facade of the building but rather to integrate the signs and commercial ads with the structure of architectural surface.


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