South Korea Wins Top Architecture Award at Venice Biennale


For the first time, South Korea has won the prestigious Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale, the world’s annual premier architecture festival, beating out 64 other countries, Hankyoreh reports. The newspaper noted that the landmark win boosts the status of Korean architects and architecture, who have not previously been paid much global attention.

All 65 national teams were asked to design their respective exhibition pavilions around the same theme: “Absorbing Modernity 1914-2014.”

Cho Min-suk, considered one of South Korea’s most lauded architects, served as the commissioner of the South Korean pavilion and, drawing inspiration from the poem “Crow’s Eye View” by Korean poet/architect Yi Sang, arrived at the theme of “Crow’s Eye View of the Korean Peninsula.” The exhibition examined how Korean architecture, as seen in cities and buildings, has changed over history, including after the country split into North and South and now exists as two ideologically opposed nations.

“The jury wishes to recognize Korea with a Golden Lion for the extraordinary achievement of presenting a new and rich body of knowledge of architecture and urbanism in a highly charged political situation,” the biennale jury said. “Using diverse modes of representation that encourage interaction, it is research-in-action, which expands the spatial and architectural narrative into a geopolitical reality.” 

“Through the Korean exhibition, we looked back over the past 100 years, so that we could see ahead into the future,” said Cho, as he accepted the award on behalf of the South Korean team. “I hope that this will offer a small sample of how fascinating it will be when North and South Korea come together to talk about architecture.”

Cho, a graduate of Yonsei and Columbia University, established himself as one of the top 40 architects active internationally. He gained experienced overseas in the U.S. working at OMA, the design office of world renowned Rem Koolhaas, a so-called ‘starchitect’, before returning to his homeland in 2003, opening up his own shop Mass Studies. His body of work is highly imaginative and original. Some of his works include South Korea’s leading Internet portal site Daum’s Jeju office, Dalki Theme Park and Pixel House in Paju.


Daum © Kyungsub Shin


Dalki Theme Park © Yong-Kwan Kim

Image via Metalocus