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Korean architecture may be classified into two major styles: those used in
palace and temple structures, and those used in the houses of common people,
which consisted of many local variations. For the former, Korean's ancient
architects adopted the bracket system. The latter was characterized by
thatched roofs and heated floors called ondol. People of the upper
classes built larger houses with tiled roofs. The roofs were elegantly
curved and accentuated with slightly uplifting eaves.
natural environment was always regarded as an element of supreme importance in
Korean architecture. Numerous Buddhist temples across the country, for
instance, were located in mountains noted for their scenic beauty, and their
structures were carefully arranged so as to achieve an ideal harmony with the
selecting the site for a building of any function, Koreans tended to attach
special meaning to the natural environment. They did not consider a place
good enough for a building unless it commanded an appropriate view of
"mountains and water." This pursuit of a constant contact with
nature was not only due to aesthetic reasons, but also because geomagnetic
principles dominated the Korean psychology.
architecture was first introduced to Korea with the opening of its doors to the
world toward the end of the 19th century. Churches and offices for foreign
legislation were built by Western architects and engineers during those
years. In the early years of modern architecture's development, Koreans
learned new ideas and skills fro Western architects and engineers. Among
these early pioneers in the 1930s was Pak Tong-jin who designed the main
building of Korea University.
architecture entered a new phase of development during the post-Korean war
reconstruction with the return of two ambitious young architects of great talent
from overseas - Kim Chung-op from France and Kim Su-gon from Japan. Both
architects have greatly contributed to the development of Korean
architecture. Some structures of special note in Seoul include Kim
Su-gun's Olympic Stadium, Um Tok-mun's Sejong Cultural Center and Kim
Seok-Chul's Seoul Arts Center. Seoul has rapidly changed into a
fascinating showcase of modern architectural trends and styles. The city's
ever-changing skyline speaks of the dramatic speed with which the nation has
developed in recent years.
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