The large new building created to represent and contain the exclusive universe of Christian Dior, from the fashion collections to the accessories, fragrances to jewelry, watches to footwear, has six levels through the sum of two separate volumes, with distinct images and materials, but joined in terms of functions and internal paths. The new double building is located on a corner of the fashion district of the South Korean capital, on a tree-lined avenue faced by a range of different buildings.
The corner position, with multiple fronts overlooking the urban landscape of the surroundings, has been seen as an opportunity by Christian de Portzamparc (Pritzker Prize 1994) to find a sculptural solution capable of making the new architectural project, a building-portrait of the world of Dior, become a new landmark for the city.
As he puts it: “I wanted the construction to represent Dior and his work. So I wanted the surfaces to be fluid, as if made of the typical white cotton fabric of the couturier. These surfaces, that rise to the sky and sway as if in motion, crossed by a few lines, are composed of large shaped pieces of fiberglass, installed with aeronautic precision.”
The twelve matte white chassis create the figure of the entrance tower that reminds us, in its vertical growth, of large juxtaposed petals, forms belonging to the botanical world.
The sinuous curved surfaces, all different from each other, wrap the inner steel structure, forming a sculptural profile at the top that protects the atmosphere of the Café Dior created on the terrace, run by the French chef pâtissier Pierre Hermé.
The sum of the surfaces of the tower, marked by an engraved geometric pattern like a weave, leaves free zones from which the light of the internal space emerges, with the entrance cut into a large opening positioned at the corner.
Here we find another architectural plot; a double skin of metal screen that forms a pointed arch, as in the Gothic cathedrals, flanking the windows in the base of the structure, cut out like paintings at certain points of the fiberglass panels at sidewalk level.
Behind the pale, striking sculptural structure the second building develops with a cubical form, its glass front facing towards the entrance volume. This essential architectural container, from which the star emblem of Maison Dior emerges, also has opaque facades, clad in metal panels, treated with refined engravings of geometric patterns, another reference to the world of fashion; to transform the skin of the architecture into a more sensorial surface, for the touch and the gaze.
photos by Nicolas Borel courtesy Christian Dior – text by Matteo Vercelloni