UNStudio has completed renovations of the Hanwha headquarters in Seoul — all without disrupting the building’s normal business operations. The impressive feat was achieved thanks to efficient and low-impact construction methods that the international design firm dubs “remodeling in place.” In addition to renovated interior spaces and a redesigned landscape, the Hanwha headquarters is now home to a completely new, energy-generating facade with integrated solar panels to express the company’s identity as an ambitious global leader in the solar panel industry. 

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Located along the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, the 57,696-square-meter Hanwha headquarters building had been suffering from a disconnect between its dated appearance and the company’s desire to be seen as a leading environmental technology provider. UNStudio won a competition to lead the redesign along with sustainability and facade consultant Arup and landscape design firm Loos van Vilet. Critical to the redesign was the replacement of the original facade, which included horizontal bands of opaque paneling and single-paneled dark glass. The new facade features clear, insulated glass with aluminum framing and integrated solar panels.

Related: MVRDV to transform Seoul’s concrete-dominated waterfront into a vibrant, green oasis

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white tables with orange chairs in large, open room with wood ceilings

The renovation takes inspiration from nature and the surrounding environment. For example, the facade opens up along the north side to enable daylighting while the southern facade is more opaque to mitigate unwanted solar gain. The openings in the facade and the placement of facade panels also respond to views and the programs within the rooms. The solar panels are placed on the opaque panels on the south and southeastern facade and are angled for optimal solar harvesting. Glazing has also been positioned to reduce direct solar impact.

white reception desk in room with curving wood ceilings
large white room with wood and orange accents

“By means of a reductive, integrated gesture, the facade design for the Hanwha HQ implements fully inclusive systems, which significantly impact the interior climate of the building, improve user comfort and ensure high levels of sustainability and affordability,” Ben van Berkel, founder of UNStudio, said. “Through fully integrated design strategies, today’s facades can provide responsive and performative envelopes that both contextually and conceptually react to their local surroundings, whilst simultaneously determining interior conditions.”

+ UNStudio

Photography by Rohspace via UNStudio

glass building with solar panels on the facade