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Travel Guide - Seoul

Through the first half of the 20th century, Seoul seemed destined to remain in the shadow of the region's neighboring mega-cities Tokyo and Beijing. Since the late-80s, however, the South Korean capital has thrown its hat into the ring and assertively managed to attract vast amounts of culture and commerce.
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Trade Tower (Korea World Trade Center) 159 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu Nikken Sekkei (with Archiban Architects, Jung Lin Architects), 1988 The Trade Tower is a 54-story office building and part of the Korean World Trade Center. At 228 meters it is one of the tallest buildings in South Korea. In 1984, Nikken Sekkei architects of Japan won the first prize in a design competition for the tower. It resembles two quadro-level towers in mirror image of each other. Photo: Martin Eberle

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63-Building (Korea Life Insurance Building) 60 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), 1985 The '63 Building' is one of the most recognizable and thus best known skyscrapers in Seoul. It looks like a gold bar and is nicknamed the 'golden tooth'. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Samsung Jongro Tower (Samsung Life Insurance Building) Jongro 2-ga, Jongno-gu Rafael Viñoly / Samoo, 1999 This 33-story office building in Jongno for Samsung Corp. has a height of 132 meters and an unusual shape: The tower, triangular in plan, is composed of three sections: A curved podium, a box-like middle section and a giant hollow cut-out between floors 23 and 30, topped by a big ring-shaped restaurant in the top floor famous for its views. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Hyundai I-Park Tower / The Tangent / Hyundai Development Corporation Headquarters 160 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu Daniel Libeskind, 2005 The Hyundai I-Park Tower is nicknamed the Tangent because of its façade. The office building serves as the Headquarters Building of Hyundai Development Corp. Daniel Libeskind gave the facade some depth and black and red colors: A 62 meter ring dominates the street facade together with a vector. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Sun Tower 37-38 Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu Thom Mayne/Morphosis, 1997 The Sun Tower, designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis from Los Angeles, stands on two neighboring properties. The two property owners were in dispute. The building is severed vertically down the center to express this duality. From the street, the building appears to be two slender towers with a second skin attached. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Jeoldusan Martyr's Shrine Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu Lee Hee-tae, 1967 The Jeoldu-san (or 'beheading mountain') is a rocky promontory overlooking the Han River. It once served as a light house for the ferries on the river. The Martyr's shrine dominates this hill next to Yanghwajin Foreigners' Cemetery and is considered to be Lee Hee-tae's masterpiece. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Luce Chapel of Yonsei University 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu Kim Seok-jai, 1974 The Luce Chapel Is the architectural highlight of Yonsei University Campus and was sponsored by the Luce Foundation. The building is used as the headquarters for the Office of Chaplaincy and hosts a sanctuary, prayer room, classrooms, and offices. Most official university ceremonies, worship services and religious meetings are held in this building as well. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Chungha Building Apgujung Road, Gangnam-gu MVRDV, 2013 An existing building from the 1980's was remodeled by MVRDV of Rotterdam and re-opened as a flagship store. The distinctive curved ribbon facade gave way to "a sculpture made of various sized windows". The whole shell of the Chungha Building is designed as an advertising space: In the evening LED lights light up the in the windows in pink and blue. Photo: Martin Eberle

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S-Trenue Tower 26-1 Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu MASS Studies, 2009 This L-shaped office tower in Yeouido's financial center has 36 floors, designed as a public podium and three slimmer vertical elements. Two of these hug the central core at different angels. The overall appearance thus is that of a giant chromosome. The spaces between the 'bundled matrix' elements are used as sky gardens. Photo: Martin Eberle

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Seo Gynecological Clinic (Suh's OB/GYN Practice) 349 Toegye-ro, Jung-gu Kim Joong-up, 1965 Located on a triangular site at the intersection of the Toegye-ro and Eulji-ro, this 4-story fantasy building emphasizes symbolism over function. Architect Kim Joong-up had spent four years in Le Corbusier's studio in France 1952-55. The fluid curves and exposed concrete walls of the Gynecological Clinic are a reminder of that. Photo: Martin Eberle

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