Cities Exhibition (2021)

Cities as key spaces for creating the prospects of a more sustainable world, and exploration of the critical role that architecture is able to play

Artificial Swissness by MxD, EPFL + Convergeo + SPOASeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

The exhibition takes an innovative look at and offers an original vision of the city’s production, oriented towards the improvement of our built environments, through the prism of five thematic figures, or “Crossroads”. With a thematic progression through each “Crossroad”, the exhibition offers an exploration of the world’s cities through projects developing specific initiatives in the field of architecture, design and urban planning. Projects that contribute to re-imagining the future of our cities, by tightening the links between city and nature, old and new, above and below, human and non-human.

Outside the Box / A Short Letter by Kengo Kuma by Kengo KumaSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

The new generation of architects and urban planners is challenged to find innovative solutions to complex issues, related to the environment, access to resources, health and safety requirements, access to housing, services or infrastructure. The exposed projects combine conviction and imagination, realism and idealism, and allow to explore the potential of specific sites, expressed through strategic, open and inspiring scenarios.

Primitive Seoul by GB607 (Sanghoon Park, Jaemin Seo, Jaeyu Kim, Jinwook Kim)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Primitive Seoul

Seoul coexists with the primitive. As Seoul embraces the original fortress city, Hanyang, two chronologically different cities share the same physical boundary, like the shape of a tree ring.

Undercurrents by Luuk SchröderSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism


Undercurrents is a series of live-streams from cameras attached to machinery in the workshops of the area surrounding the DDP. These live-streams provide a live ‘mapping’ of the labor conducted by the small businesses and workshops originating in Korea’s modernization period that formed Seoul’s main manufacturing hub. This situation is rapidly changing as the specialized work of the area is taken over by large warehouses that operate digitally from remote places.

The Floating Bridge Prototype by West 8Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

The Floating Bridge Prototype

As an international design o�ce, we are facing many water and climate related complications in our daily work that heavily impacts the functionality of traditional infrastructure. A rising sea level and the increasing scarcity of space limit the flexibility of the city to cope with peak rainfalls during storms or a lack of water during periods of drought. In the Netherlands this problem becomes very apparent, since more than half of the country is situated below sea level. 

Beneath the City: Rivers by GAMBJTSSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Beneath the City: Rivers

The Beneath the City: Rivers project fosters innovative design interventions by daylighting hidden waterways. It is a process of excavation and embankment that re-naturalizes human-altered landscapes.

Transience: Underground Station by Shigeki Maeda (Geo-Graphic Design Lab)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Transience: Underground Station

The project offers the opportunity to think about future interconnections of public spaces through a succession of layers that connect the above and below, north and south, and natural and artificial landscapes.

Rogier Square by XDGA – Xaveer De Geyter ArchitectsSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Rogier Square

XDGA’s proposal aims at showcasing the spatial qualities of the Rogier Square project and its relationship with the underground network, by means of a large-scale model. Specifically, it focuses on the balance between two constitutive elements of the design: the patio that acts as a connector for the different vertical fluxes and the circular canopy that signals the project to the city. Both are here intended to assume an abstract, sculptural character thanks to the use of a single material (wood, painted white).

Le Lantern by EAA – Emre Arolat ArchitectureSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Le Lantern

When you are close enough to perceive the incidental holes and the adorned visuals on perforations, you will be enlightened with the story of The Museum Hotel Antakya. After 10 years of feverish work, the project breaks down some conventions and opens a debate on the philosophical, technical, and poetic questions about the relationships between above and below, architecture and archeology, private and public, past and future, local and global, historical and high-tech.

Artificial Swissness by MxD, EPFL + Convergeo + SPOASeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Artificial Swissness

In Artificial Swissness, we examine the notion of “cultural resilience” in Alpine cities and question the role of creative artificial intelligence in architecture. Our chosen city is Lumnezia, a fictional, idiosyncratic Swiss alpine polycentric city with inhabitation spread out in multiple sub-centers in the Surselva region of Graubünden, Switzerland. 

A Resilient Monument by THISS x ìssíSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

A Resilient Monument

The new monument is not a new normal. It must rot and be cared for as an affirmation of the values it is given by those who make it. The new monument is resilient—shifting and adapting with our evolving, cosmopolitan culture. The new monument records the living, not the dead.

Natural Relic and Artificial Witness: A Tale of the Retreating Rhone Glacier And the Hotel Belvédère by Studio DOHGAM (Namjoo Kim, Kangil Ji)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Natural Relic and Artificial Witness

The installation shows the current and the future state of the Rhone glacier and the Hotel Belvédère and aims to reveal the urgency of the fast-changing landscape and the potential impact on the built environment. The Rhone glacier, one of the oldest glaciers in the Swiss Alps, will disappear in 100 years due to climate change. 

A Chance Within Chaos by Ahmed Hossam SaafanSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

A Chance Within Chaos

When you look upon the current map of Cairo, you would find that informal settlements take up more than 60% of the total footprint of the city. Characterized by narrow alleys, there is no space for the public or recreational activity, and thus they are no place to have a good quality of life. It is quite important to understand that one of the key factors of a resilient city is community and its ability to communicate issues to diverse cultural groups. 

Augmented Depiction by SoomeenHahm DesignSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Augmented Depiction

This exhibition celebrates the technological and aesthetic aspects of the Augmented Grounds by reproducing part of the installation at 1:1 scale and bringing the physical experience of the Reford Gardens(Les Jardins de Métis) to the visitors.

Outside the Box / A Short Letter by Kengo Kuma by Kengo KumaSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Outside the Box / A Short Letter by Kengo Kuma

A short letter that I’ve written to anyone willing to read. It is meant to engage our thoughts on how and where we live. Humanity has been trapped living in physical boxes. I want to explore how we can start to open up the box to free our minds and spirits.

Balcony Is a New Garden by architectural/practiceSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Balcony Is a New Garden

The “balcony-gardens” today collectively occupy a much larger surface area and volume within the city compared to the pseudo-natural gardens, including urban parks. This provokes the question: is this garden artificial or natural, then?

Hosting Life: Re-using Modernity by ChartierDalixSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Hosting Life: Re-using Modernity

Among the architectural elements that make up our built landscape, the heritage of Modernism represents opportunities to experiment and imagine transformations that are favorable to the emergence of new landscapes for a future nature-city.

Dynamic Equilibrium by Toyo Ito & Associates, ArchitectsSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Dynamic Equilibrium

The fundamental idea of our projects is based on the notion of “dynamic equilibrium,” put forth by a Japanese biologist Shinichi Fukuoka, which demonstrates that our bodies are not static, but maintains a kind of equilibrium state by adapting day to day.

The Wall and the City by Anand Sonecha (SEALAB)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

The Wall and the City

By analyzing different conditions of this element across Ahmedabad, from city to building scale, the installation demonstrates the complexities of the wall, its form, limits, uses, and repercussions on the social sustainability of the city.

Grey Matter Bergen by local (Jerome Picard, Elida Mosquera)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Grey Matter Bergen

By documenting the lives of our elders, the project contradicts the common belief that activity and productivity belong solely to the youth and criticizes the segregation of seniors that consigns them to isolation, passivity, dependence and claims.

O-Ground Shelter by Collectif VOUSSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

O-Ground Shelter

Old Fangak, Year 2035, two weeks after the hurricane. Humanitarian support is still active. Yesterday, local authorities started to deliver light shelters that allow a small living space above the water, operational within minutes. The operations need no more than a few people, simple hand tools, and a plain simple instruction manual. 

Workscape by Jackilin Hah Bloom (JHB Studio)Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism


Workscape is the predicament of an o�ce design for creative professionals, caught somewhere between the explosion of contemporary coworking spaces and the abandonment of offices due to the COVID-19 crisis. In plan and spatial organization, it sneaks in 6-8 feet distances between workspaces with unwieldy desks that can fold-up as partitions and bookshelves, cloaking pandemic protocol with flexible and functional furniture. 

Stitching the Skyline by Bernard KhourySeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Stitching the Skyline

Today, in its sorry state, it stands as one of the most visible victims of the catastrophe. Stitching the Skyline is an installation that documents the recovery operation that we plan for the edifice within the context of the estimated 3.2km diameter of combustion of the blast.

Behind the Curtain Wall by Groupwork + Romeo SrlSeoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Behind the Curtain Wall

Our research, begun over ten years ago by Ateliers Romeo and joined by Groupwork offers designers the opportunity to bind, fold, and layer materials to form a composite of structure, thermal envelope, and external and internal finish of any efficient form. By virtue of being a waste material, it will be a future low-cost and low-CO2 aid, helping to dramatically drop the construction industry’s contribution to atmospheric CO2, currently estimated at more than 30%.

Credits: Story

Find out more information including the theme of the 2021 biennale, and programs on the website of Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. 

Curator: Dominique Perrault
​Photos: ⓒ516 Studio

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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