Jin Young Song earns multiple international honors for facade research

by Isha Bubna

Published December 7, 2021

Jin Young Song, associate professor of architecture, has received multiple recent international honors for his research on facade systems, including an invitation to the 2021 Seoul Architecture Biennale and two competition wins, one of which has earned Song a project commission.

Song pursues research in facades in relationship to their community contexts - social, ecological, technological and functional. Song says facacades a critical elements of telling a community's story and represnting its culture. He hopes his facade design creates a threshold for understanding and appreciation between building program and culture-making through architecture. 

"When architects open a humble and kind conversation through the unique materiality and morphology, I believe users will generate their own stories and memories around it.," says Song. 

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2021

Last Fall, Song was invited to the 3rd Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2021, which explored the theme of CROSSROADS, Building the Resilient City. The event featured designers, urban planners, architects, scientists and theorists from across the industry and around the world.

Song's work was featured in the Architecture x Infrastructure' section, exploring the relationship of architecture and engineering technology. "Stick, Snap, Stack: Reconfigurable Stacked Lattice System" adopts accessible and reconfigurable building methods to support the culture of dynamic placemaking. Stick, Snap, Stack offers a resilient construction framework with a craft-based alternative construction system. The system is modeled on traditional wood joinery, integrating the simplicity of "stacking" with a "snap-on" interlock system for the unique piece-to-piece mechanism. The possibility of building variable structures which are self-supporting minimizes the need for skilled labor. It also enables easy disassembly at the end of the lifetime of the program. The reconfigurability of the stacking system demonstrates the overall sustainability of the built environment through adaptability and multi-functional design.

Stick, Snap, Stack is among a series of projects by Song that innovate the "block" performance, generating facade systems that integrate art and design with engineering and construction efficiencies and practical industry applications. Song and his team explored a custom stackable system using terra cotta blocks for the 2021 Architectural Ceramic Assemblies Workshop, co-organized by the School, Boston Valley Terra Cotta and UB's SMART Community of Excellence. 

"Hongdo Information Center" competition

Song also recently secured first-place and project commission for his submission to the 'Hongdo Information Center’ design competition organized by National Park Service in Korea. Song's proposal employs a sytsem of customizalbe prefabricated concrete walls using rocks native to the Hongdo Island region of South Korea. The facade creates a framed ‘window’ as a reciprocal function to both the visitors and operators of the program. This window allows viewers to witness panoramic scenery of the ocean while the service programs are arranged efficiently on the side. It is framed by a unique skin design reinventing the experience of the island's pebble beach through the concrete facade panels. Its texture implies the time, wind, water and sunlight that shaped these rocks. As a result the facade of the information center represents a holistic perception of this island. 

Jin Young Song on his winning concept for the Hongdo Island Visitor Center in South Korea

"When the prefabricated pebble-inspired facade gets wet by the rain and is dried by the fresh wind it forms sharp shadows. My hope is for people to feel the long-accumulated time of the island through repeated transformations between dark and saturated wet pebbles and warm bright washed out stones, the product of wind, time, and sun."

- Jin Young Song

'Dobong Library Competition'

Song also won an honorable mention (3rd place) in the ‘Dobong Library Competition’ organized by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The library is to be sited in a historic preservation zone, with a graveyard dating back to the 14th century and with members of the Joseon dynasty, palace Eunuchs and many unknown people among those buried there.

In his proposal, Song employs the facade to connect the building to the stories behind the gravestones and the physical objects that represent them, maintaining the essence of the site. His system employs colorful terracotta baguettes with distinctive connection designs that create diverse angles and depth. The design gesture allows a viewer to see the aggregation of those elements differently depending on the viewing angles, time, and weather.