Light Monumentality

How can we define the concept of monumentality in contemporary architectural terms? Who or to what power structure(s) does the condition of monumentality belong? How does programmatic content align with symbolic intent? Can the social context of monumental architecture shift or does it in some way remain aligned to its historical origins? We have intentionally juxtaposed the concept of lightness and monumentality to put the terms into question. We all understand the preconception that the monumental connotes a certain gravity, a staid materiality, a relationship to particular ideologies. However lightness conveys different conceptual streams that are central to contemporary urbanism: lightness of ecological and energy footprints, lightness of tectonics that can no longer rely upon unlimited human labor, lightness of compressed construction timeframes required by modern urbanization, lightness of rapidly shifting cultural and social contexts, and of course the phenomenological qualities of light itself.The Korean context is especially a significant backdrop to address these current issues. With the creation (and re-creation) of new urban areas, architecture has not only become the vehicle through which these territories compete for a sense of international identity, it has also become the catalyst through which the concept of the public domain is defined within a climate of dynamic social change. A site in Seoul, pivotal to its future development and identity, will act as the framework through which each studio member will question, invent, and define the terms of \’Light Monumentality.\’ A visit to Seoul and its surrounds is planned during the week of studio trips where we will tour the site, hold a workshop with the sponsor, and meet key individuals and organizations.