Thirteen years ago when Mr. David-Pierre Jalicon, a French architect , visited Korea as part of a French research delegation to help design the KTX bullet train, he hardly hand an inkling that he was destined to stay back in the country. His first trip took him across the length and breadth of the country along the present-day KTX route, when he traveled to better understand the Korean landscape.
During his researching, he landed other projects, including building the French School and French Cultural Center in Seoul. Within a year or so, he became the first and only French architect to own firms in both Korea and France.
Today his firm, D.P.J. & Partners is well known for expressing what French people aspired to in Korea. That aside, he has also completed several projects in Spain, Taiwan and Hong-Kong.
The firm has been certified by the Korean Government for "Off Set" Program as a Korean firm and therefore can participate in big international projects.
His experience spans several areas: architecture, environmental and urban design, interior design for office, residences and luxury brands. For example, he is the main architect for Cartier in Korea and several other Asian countries.
“The characteristic specific to the firm is to be able for each kind of project to provide a strong identity and to be very specific. Therefore through this same approach, the firm is organized around three divisions,” he told Infomag Real Estate.
The Architecture Division handles all kinds of buildings from Musical Theaters to Private Residence. The Interior Design, Renovation, & Decoration Division takes care of different kinds of interior, from Offices space planning to living spaces through shops and corners for the luxurious retail market. The third Division of Urban Art and Environment Design handles projects like bridges and urban plazas.
He noted that architecture should tell a story, reflecting the evolution of culture and tradition in the country. Therefore to better understand Korea and her people, he spent many months researching Korean history and customs. That really paid off, and today he can effortlessly blend traditional architecture and nature with modern constructions.
“What has always fascinated me in Asian architecture is that its construction form is associated with numerous signs and symbols which tell me stories and which project me a concept of the universe (TAO) and a global landscape (Geomancy). So, I try to produce an architecture which re-starts, so to speak, by using signs, symbols and meaning based on the traditional Korean values and philosophy,” he said.
The French School in Banpo, Seoul, was his first major project and it has got a lot of praise. As he notes, he wanted to build a symbol of French education and culture in a foreign country, whose design and details not only embraced the local culture but also created its own strong identity in the so-called French Town in Seoul.
In his words: “The façade screen is animated of little punctures that will not go unnoticed. They are in fact symbols drawn from Pa-Koua (Which can be seen on the Korean flag), that of the East in this case. It represents the energy of this direction where urban constraints and noise had barred any opening. This energy rupture from the East was all the more regrettable as in TAO, it represents childhood and growth. The symbols on the screen are here to regenerate it.”
He noted that the round shape of the building reflects very much the qualities recognized in French education: awakening, openness, movement, interdisciplinary nature and dynamism. It also brings a sense of friendliness to the classroom.
His next project was the French Cultural Center in Seoul, which was also well received. Infact these two projects landed him the Aqua-Art Bridge project that got him even more fame. The 75-meter-long, 4-meter-wide foot bridge features a 28-meter diameter ring structure which harbors a glass panel that runs water streams above a fountain and projects moving images.
The bridge also helped him land an even bigger project nearby. After Kim Sun-gyu, president of Seoul Arts Center, announced his plan to turn an old-fashioned opera house into a high-tech musical theater by 2006, he saw the plans for the Aqua-Art Bridge. Impressed, he and Seocho District Mayor Cho Nam-ho asked Mr. Jalicon for his ideas for the new theater.
They were especially intrigued by his idea of making the bridge a part of the new complex and picked him to head the project, which included transforming the neighboring Mt. Wumyeon and turning more than 10,000 pyeong (33,000 square meters) into a multi-functional cultural complex.
Since then, there has been no looking back. As his reputation grew so did the projects under his ambit.
Some of the other architectural projects that he has undertaken include SK View Oryukdo / Busan, Hoengseong Resort project, Didomi Housing / Kwangju, The World Garden Project / Banpo-dong, Donggeum-do house / Donggeum-do, Kuwait Embassy Residence Extension / Seoul, Louis Vuitton Building Extension, French Embassy Housing Project / Seoul and French Embassy Consular Building.
As regards environmentally friendly work, he undertook “NATURE-TECH ” Bridge in Bucheon, Architecture & Landscaping of Itaewon street, VLF TS Building & Civil Work, / Haenam, “Central Point” Bridge / Sapyoung-lo, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Memorial Hall for the French Soldiers in Korean War / Suwon, The Second Sungsan Bridge “The Four Sails Bridge” / Han river, Sangam millennium city, Seoul and “Memory” Bridge / Suwon, among others.
His interior and renovation work spans the projects of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Office, BNP Paribas Seoul Office, Oman Embassy Residence Renovation / Seoul, Renault Samsung Motors Kihung Research Center Hall Renovation, Group SEB Korea interior, French Korean Chamber of Commerce & Industry Office / Seoul, Cogema Korea Office / Seoul, Richemont Korea Head Office / Seoul, Hachette Next Media Office / Seoul, Bluebell Korea Office / Seoul, “Cartier” Residence Renovation / Seoul, Daimler Chrysler Office / Seoul, Head Office of Credit Agricole Indosuez Bank / Seoul, - Renault Samsung Motors Head Office / Seoul among others.
As he notes, architecture should be as fluid as the times. It should create a space with a new concept that constantly changes and moves along with people, trends, culture and ideas.