Modeling Narratives: Architecture of Desire in Contemporary Seoul


  • Yoonchun Jung
  • Angeliki Sioli


In the article “Modeling Narratives” we suggest a number of unconventional architectural interventions in the fast-shifting urban environment of contemporary Seoul. We focus on marginal phenomena of the city’s life and attempt to create for them appropriate architectural manifestations. We began with a sociopolitical reading of these phenomena, but have proceeded in modeling narratives that express their main characteristics and predominant parameters. These phenomena are the high rate of suicidal attempts in Seoul’s Han-river, the recent proliferation of illegal prostitution and abnormal sexuality, and the anarchical reactions against the authoritative government and conventional social norms in the heart of the city.

Trying to study these phenomena, which usually pass unnoticed by the official historiography, we build plausible narratives that describe the involved people’s repressed desires and their intentions for the future. These narratives become the main tool for the architectural proposals we then suggest and design, for they define the program, placement, form and materiality of the interventions themselves. In that way the narratives mediate between architecture and its socio-political context, reconciling the personal imagination of the architect with an understanding of local places and cultures along with pressing political and ethical concerns. By doing this, these narrative-based projects are intended ultimately to contribute to the reconfiguration of the ever-changing Seoulian society.