Apartments, Apartments, Apartments Everywhere in South Korea

Posted: July 18, 2011 in architecture, lack of creativity

One of the first thing ones notices upon landing in South Korea is the number of high rise apartment buildings. They are everywhere.

And they all look the same.

Gimhae Aparment Buildings

Gimhae is essentially apartment buildings

For the most part, the apartments not only all look the same, they are all the same. It would appear Korean architects can do one thing well, copy the design of the architects who went before them.

And copy their mistakes too.

Hankook Echa Apartments Gimhae

Not a balcony among them

You’ll notice not a single apartment building has a balcony. Not one of these apartment dwellers can enjoy a meal, a smoke, a drink, a barbeque  or a quiet conversation outside of their rabbit cage of a dwelling.

The same design is repeated all over South Korea:

Yesan

Seoul

Most South Korean apartments are built by corporations such as the Jaebeol (conglomerate) Lotte, known for its food manufacturing, baseball team, finance company, credit card provider, confectionary and its department stores and shopping malls, scattered throughout South Korea.

They too, although wealthy and with access to and the means to hire the best architects and designers South Korea has to offer, exercise little or no creativity when building housing for the hapless Koreans who have to dwell in these uniform vertical boxes.

Lotte Apts Daegu

Everywhere One Looks, One Sees Same Same

The interiors of the identically looking apartments are all the same too. Truly, if you have seen one apartment in South Korea, you’ve seen them all.

You will not find a swimming pool, a community center, a recreation hall, not even a game room among these concrete clones. Yes, there are some small children’s playgrounds stuck in the few areas not covered by the apartment’s footprints. But for the most part, profit, not community living, was the foremost motive when these tributes to tediousness were built.

There are not even enough parking places for all the cars Koreans are buying. Double and triple parking is common.

These replacements for what Koreans are so proud of, their “traditional” architecture, are almost all the same color too, a dull off-white. Will someone please introduce Korean architects and designers to a Color Scheme Designer?

Which begs the question: are  there no planning departments? No design approval process? Or, more likely, are they all on the take?

After all these years of building these monotonous monoliths that dominate the landscape all over Korea, one would think somebody, ANYBODY in a position of influence would have realized all these apartments look alike and are alike?

And yet no one has raised the question, “Why do our apartment buildings all have to look and be the same?” Can’t one of our architects come up with a new design? A new look?”

Something DIFFERENT?

For heaven’s sake you Koreans, hire a design consultant from OUTSIDE of Korea.

Heaven knows, with your $10 billion USD surplus in the automobile trade with the United States, you can afford to.

With the American taxpayer covering most of South Korea’s defense expenses since 1950, there really is no excuse for Koreans not hiring an American architectural firm to show them some new designs.

You know, free trade, give and take, and all that. Why not give some back to those who have been the source of much of your wealth all these years? But Koreans are well known as takers, not givers.

Fortunately, it is the Koreans themselves who have to live with these concrete monuments to their selfishness and lack of creativity.

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