"The FAR Game:
Constraints Sparking Creativity"

ⓒ Sung Hong KIM, Eungee CINN, Keehyun AHN, Seungbum KIM, Isak CHUNG, Da Eun JEONG / Original Photo by Kyungsub SHIN, ‘Scrutable Landscape Series No.017, 2015, Pigment Print’

The front line of the architectural battles waged in Korea inexorably runs through its capital city of Seoul. Korean architects may think they have the vision of field generals, but when handling their missions in Seoul, they are often asked to operate more like foot soldiers.

The Korean urban architect works under the constant pressure of two opposing forces. One comes from Seoul’s hyper-density; the greater Seoul metropolitan area, representing 12% of South Korea’s land mass, is home to nearly half of the citizens of the entire country. Hence plot prices are at a premium, and the architect is always under strict orders to augment useable floor area in order to maximize a developer’s and land owner’s profits. The other is an urban building regulatory system where strict and unyielding rules give public officials little discretion for negotiation.

Korean architects must therefore always be prepared to perform a high-wire balancing act. Their endeavor to deal optimally with these opposing forces in the planning and execution of their buildings is known euphemistically as ‘playing the FAR Game’.

Facing this tug-of- war between private profit and public regulation, how is the Korean architect truly to ply his trade, and infuse his work with some form of aesthetic or socio-cultural considerations? The answer from today’s Korean architects, evidenced by the 36 buildings showcased in this exhibit, is to use the constraints brought on by the FAR game to spark their creativity rather than allowing those constraints to stifle it.

The main target is medium-scale multi-family houses or mixed-use buildings, which in earlier times would not have been on the radar of most architects. Yet, as this exhibit will show, these projects are now providing fertile grounds for creative responses to the intense high-stakes pressures of the FAR game.

By Sung Hong KIM,
Eungee CINN, Keehyun AHN,
Seungbum KIM, Isak CHUNG,
Da Eun JEONG, Richard Enos

Why Does the FAR Game Matter?

“The FAR Game is a powerful lens into the current frontiers of Korean society as expressed by the scale of buildings in the cities and the urban fabric.”

“Korean architects creatively absorb hyper-density by crossing over from quantity to quality, and turn the motivation of short-term individual profit into the realization of long term public benefits.”

“The FAR Game in Korea has gone through changes with the decline of large-scale demolition and reconstruction projects. It fosters a slow but resilient form of urban regeneration on a smaller scale within sub-blocks.”

List of Participants

Commissioner: Arts Council Korea (Chair, Myung Jin PARK / Sue LIM, Seoyeong BYEON)

Curator: Sung Hong KIM

Associate Curators: Eungee CINN, Keehyun AHN, Seungbum KIM, Isak CHUNG

Assistant Curator: Da Eun JEONG

Exhibitors: Sung Hong KIM, Eungee CINN, Keehyun AHN, Seungbum KIM, Isak CHUNG, Da Eun JEONG

Invited Artists: Seongeun KANG, Seung Woo BACK, Yeondoo JUNG, Kyungsub SHIN

Graphic Designer: Jin JUNG with STUDIO TEXT

Substantive Editor: Richard Enos

Staff: Hyung Bum KIM, Minjung CHOI, Woo Joe LEE, Hyung Rok DO, Hee Ra KANG, Jong Ul Rim KIM, Yoon Jae GWAK, Jeong Yeon LEE, Chan Beum PARK, Kyeong Jae LEE, Jung In SEO

Model Production Coordinator: Hyun Ki SIM

Documentary Film: The Docent

Contributing Firms/Architects:

  • ArchiWorkshop (Hee-Jun SIM, Su-Jeong PARK)
  • BAU Architects (Hyungpyo KWON, Soonjoo KIM)
  • designband YOAP (Hyun Bo SHIN, In Keun RYOO, Doran KIM)
  • apparat - c (Sewoong LEE, Yeonyung CHOI)
  • EU.K Architects (Kyoung Eun KWON, Jungwoo JI) + ANM (Hee Jun KIM)
  • AND : Architecture of Novel Differentiation (Eui Yeob JEONG)
  • Society of Architecture (Chi Hoon LEE, Yerin KANG, Jae Woen LEE)
  • thescape (Kyung Hwan CHUN)
  • SAAI Architects Office (Jinoh LEE, Inyoung PARK)
  • CHAE-PEREIRA Architects (Songhee CHAE, Laurent Pereira)
  • OBBA (Sojung LEE, Sangjoon KWAK)
  • DIA Architecture (Hyuna CHUNG)
  • JOHO Architecture (Jeonghoon LEE)
  • Archihood WXY (Woohyun KANG, Youngjin KANG)
  • WISE Architecture (Young JANG, Sook Hee CHUN)
  • Design Group OZ (Seung Soo SHIN, Sangjin LIM, Jaewon CHOI)
  • SsD (Jinhee PARK)
  • Doojin Hwang Architects (Doojin HWANG)
  • poly.m.ur (Homin KIM)
  • IROJE KHM Architects (Hyo Man KIM)
  • UTAA (Changgyun KIM)
  • Archium (In-cheurl KIM)
  • TRU Architects (Sungik CHO)
  • BOUNDLESS (Sunghyeon JO, Jooho MOON, Jihwan LIM, Jaehee RYU)
  • INTERKERD Architects Inc. (Seunghyun YOON)
  • L'EAU Design (Dong Jin KIM)
  • oddaa Architects (Youngwook O)
  • BANG by MIN (Sae Min OH)
  • KYWC Architects (Seunghoy KIM)
  • UnSangDong Architects (Yoon Gyoo JANG, Chang Hoon SHIN)
  • Mass Studies (Minsuk CHO)
  • THE_SYSTEM LAB (Chanjoong KIM)
  • N.E.E.D. Architecture (Sungwoo KIM, Sangmok KIM)
  • AnLstudio (Keehyun AHN, Minjae SHIN, Minsoo LEE)
  • OCA (Jae Y. LIM)
  • Samhyun (Yong Nam KIM)

Counselor: John Peponis

Advisory Group: Moongyu CHOI, Jae Y. LIM, Chungkee LEE, Cheolsoo PARK, Richard Enos

International Public Relations: Haewon SHIN, So Young HAN

Essay Contributors: John Peponis with James Park and Chen Feng (Georgia Tech), Marc Simmons (FRONT Inc.), Rowan Moore (The Observer), Peter Winston Ferretto (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Julian Worrall (The University of Adelaide), Meta Berghauser Pont with Lars Marcus (Chalmers University of Technology), Neville Mars (MARS Architects), Kyung-Min KIM (Seoul National University), Winy Maas (MVRDV)

Catalog Publisher: SPACE Books

  • Editor-in-Chief: Sungjin PARK
  • Editor: Gyehyun PARK
  • Design: Seungtae CHOI

Construction Supervisor & Coordinator: Eun Jeong KIM

Sponsors & Supporters: Inspire IR, LG Electronics, Duomo Corporation, Boksoondoga, SAMAH Aerial Survey Co. Ltd.

Back to Top