Amore Pacific by Àlvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira 09.08.11

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Àlvaro Siza and Carlos Castanheira are on a roll in South Korea, working on a number of fascinating projects in the past few years. It's not long since we featured their Mimesis Museum in Paju Book City (Icon 087), and they have now completed a complex of buildings in Seoul for the cosmetics company Amore Pacific.

Primarily a new set of high-tech laboratories, the complex also includes a canteen, auditoria, teaching spaces, a private hotel for important visitors and a pavilion for the owner of the company to display artefacts from his extensive collections. "He has a very good collection of things related to women," says Carlos Castanheira, pausing cryptically before explaining: "Make-up, beauty-related objects, clothes and items for the tea ceremony. He also has a very good collection of art, especially paintings."

The client visited the architects in Portugal a number of times, at one point taking a shine to one of Siza's previous buildings, the Aveiro Library. "He said, 'I'd like to have a laboratory like this'," explains Castanheira, but smells and chemicals mean that the labs had to be sealed off from each other. The architects' solution was to glaze large stretches of the facade and break the very deep plan up with small courtyards. "Everybody ends up working next to a window, so there are no 'inside' spaces," says Castanheira.

The courtyards and the surrounding site are slowly being filled with another of the client's collecting passions: trees. They are picked out and transferred onto site before being replanted. "Where we work in Asia they can move trees – it's very easy for them. If we move a tree in Portugal, almost for sure, it dies," laughs Castanheira.

The building is typically confident with its massing, and has strong cantilevered rectangular forms clad in zinc above black granite. As usual there is the exemplary detailing finesse. "We're not architects who make concepts and then give it up to somebody and then hope it'll be OK by opening day," says Castanheira proudly. "It's not just a question of the concept, but also a question of whether the concept is well done."



Fernando Guerra/FG+SG



Douglas Murphy

quotes story

We're not architects who make concepts and then give it up to somebody and then hope it'll be OK by opening day

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