The new Samsung offices in Seoul poke into the heavens with steel and crystal towers, soaring into the skyline of the metropolis. They appear to rest on a stone podium made up of the lower buildings, rather than directly on the ground.
The outer layer of these buildings as they stretch along the streets is a two-colour sandstone skin: Giallo etrusco and Pietra extraforte, both polished and 3 cm thick. The two characteristic colours alternate in horizontal bands and gradually reach the summit in a non-serial manner, with rhythmic changes in size before disappearing as they reach the copings. Moving from low to high, the dominating role of the yellow stone gives way to the tonality of the grey.
That the slabs are not substantial and do not have a structural function is revealed by the way they are arranged, overlaid without mountings. The facade was designed and created with dry-laying techniques.
The slabs become rectangular in the various angles of the façade profiles.
They are composed of two completely blind vertical surfaces sheltered by the apex of the roof junction. Moving towards the opposite extremes, they meet glass insets and equipment grids, in addition to whole vertical portions featuring brise soleil from floor to ceiling: these intrusions of material, and their diagonal placement, break the linear geometry.
On closer examination, the podium is of differing heights, setting apart the main building in the strategic corner position from the series of lower structures running along the streets in the two main directions. These, too, are clad in a two-coloured stone skin, again in horizontal lines, but with more frequent alternation and much larger openings.
The entire front of the structure where it meets the public pathways is characterised by wide intervals and partial setbacks, as if drawing within it the flow of passers-by.
Small green spaces are also arranged on several levels, sheltered by the main walkways; in these, the stone is set along the lines of the designs that the Jerde studio in California uses for creating essential furnishing elements.