Renovation Award of Excellence: Hanwha Headquarters, Seoul

Astrid Piber
Partner
UNStudio, Amsterdam

Ho Yoon Na
Deputy General Manager
Hanhwa Engineering & Construction, Seoul

Generating Clean Energy and Employee Well-Being

As it is owned by a leading producer of photovoltaic (PV) panels, the 1980s-built Hanwha Headquarters received a major renovation that included embedding highly-responsive solar technology into its exterior cladding, reflecting the firm’s commitment to renewable energy. Influenced by the the natural environment, a holistic building-wide restructuring prioritized employee well-being and comfort. Its state-of-the-art, modern aesthetic reflects the pace of rapid expansion taking place throughout the Cheonggyecheon area, a major cultural and historical hub with growing business activity.

The project's aim was to improve the indoor environment to support employee comfort. The outdoor garden extends into the lobby, acting as a visual pathway into the building, blurring the lines between inside and outside. The use of natural materials and plantings, guided by studies in light and materiality, is coupled with a subtle color scheme and wood furnishings to build a calming respite. Coffee nooks throughout the north and south lobbies facilitate social interaction, further contributing to the livability of the workspace. To minimize operational interruption, the renovation took place while the building remained occupied, with only three to four floors unavailable to employees at any time during construction.

The original façade was replaced with insulated glass and aluminum to accentuate views and daylight, while the geometry of the framing was defined by solar orientation to ensure employee comfort and reduced energy consumption. By varying the placement of the façade panels, several program-related openings were created. The north façade opens to enable daylighting within the building, while the south façade, where the sun’s rays are strongest, is more opaque. PV cells were placed on the opaque panels, where energy can best be generated.

View Building on The Skyscraper Center