The story of Yongsu Choung, Architectural Designer
Last year, a man from a small Asian country entered the world of international architecture like a comet. It was astonishing that he was only in his early 30s. His name is Yongsu Choung. He is a graduate of the University of Seoul (UOS), where he majored in Architecture. With his recent personal research project - Architecture as Identity - he is now approaching the prime of his life.
Wandering in Youth
When Choung was an elementary student, he spent most time learning art. His father was the one who awoke his interest in architecture. Choung’s father was into Korean traditional architecture, giving his son chances to see various historic sites and old buildings.
Moving to middle school, Choung fell in love with cartoons and novels.
But his affection was not the total story or his character; rather, it was only the background.
His interest in cartoons has broadened and gone through several changes, leading to his enthusiasm for construction, concreting his desire for architecture.
Choung as a Student
Choung entered the UOS in 2003. He was rather an extraordinary student. He did not merely attend school; he made school his own, participating in several contest exhibits and working on his own pieces while employed at an architectural firm during his vacation. As he stuck to his work in his own way, he started to gain recognition. In 2010, his work received an award in the KIA International Competition. He also won an award for excellence in the PRUGIO Design Competition. In the following year, he was awarded a gold prize in the Korea Hanok Competition.
In 2008 and 2009, Choung attended the National University of Singapore as an exchange student. There, he broadened his understanding of architecture by observing a variety of buildings in that foreign culture. He also could share his ideas with foreign students. This experience led him to a remarkable width of vision architecture.
Even though Choung was a foreign exchange student, he worked in an architectural firm. He has been combining both working and studying since he works at an American architectural firm in New York as a student of the University of Pennsylvania. Learning in Singapore made him decide on further study in the USA.
Choung’s effort has not been made for boasting or earning visible rewards. Rather, he is seeking the lexicon of Architecture, and continues stepping toward his inner world.
Life since Graduation
As mentioned previously, Choung is working these days on his own research ? Architecture as Identity. He is also exploring cities such as Paris, Milan, and New York as an extension of this research. Meanwhile, he is attending the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. For 2014-2015 school year, he made great records each year and received outstanding results in two international competitions. Each of these contests had different meanings, but there was no doubt that they were precious.
Last year, Choung marked his 10th year after he entered the world of architecture and he is using these competitions to check his position in the architectural world. He participated in the International Design Competition for the New National Gallery and the Ludwig Museum in Budapest, Hungary. For this reason, he did not have high expectations for his work. The piece he submitted was expected to be located in a place where the shape of the land was nearly a triangle. This led to a triangular ceiling with void space in the center. This work was quite satisfying to Choung despite the time for working for this project was relatively short. The result was better than he expected. His piece was included among the final five candidates. He was quite satisfied and confident before he left Korea.
This year, 2015, Choung won a prize in the eVolo Skyscraper Competition with Deep Skins. The interesting part of this piece is that it is the extension of an assignment in class. Artistically, the work is so unique that it grasps everyone’s eye. Choung explained that this design is related to what he calls “the envelope of architecture” ? the outer part of a building, inspired by shark’s skin. The skin of the shark has a unique design, as individual units form a union, having an open and closed structure. As a result, the building is closed at one view, and open in another.
▲ A piece for New National Gallery and Ludwig Museum
Q Which part do you pay attention to the most when you launch a project? A I usually get my inspiration from the context where I want to design. Therefore, I try to search around the area, and it is an interesting process. As an architect, I would like to design a building that melt into surroundings, yet is still unique at the same time. I think detailed site investigation and my architectural lexicon will lead to unique ideas.
Q Which work of yours so far is the most meaningful to you? A Of course all of my works are precious to me for various reasons, but if I should choose one, I think it would be Wa-Mok?Seok (瓦木石). This piece was my individual submission for the Korea Hanok Competition. The goal of this piece was to attain a new Hanok that was in tune with the times. When designing this building, I questioned why modern Hanok should have the same design as the old ones. So I showed my vision by fusing contemporary and traditional architecture.
Q What kind of building would you like to design in the future? A I would like to build a small Catholic church. When I visited Europe recently, small churches impressed me greatly, and my heart was set on them. I think architecture has a kind of power to induce spiritual inspiration.