Cheonggyecheon Stream, Seoul, South Korea
Steel, cast aluminum, aluminum; painted with acrylic polyurethane
70 ft. (21.3 m) high x 18 ft. (5.5 m) diameter at base of sculpture
Installed September 2006
Spring, 2006, became the first large-scale project entirely conceived, designed and directed by Coosje van Bruggen. The sculpture is her response to a commission by the Seoul Foundation of Arts and Culture for an emblematic work to mark the Cheong Gye Chon Restoration Project, an initiative to remove a wide street covering a river in the center of Seoul and the conversion of four miles of the riverís banks into a park, which received the "Cities On Water" award in Venice, Italy in 2004.
For the point of the riverís emergence above a waterfall, Van Bruggen proposed the transformation of a small "turret" sea-shell she had selected for its beautiful form and symmetrical proportions. The shell is set vertically on its wider end, and visualized as a rounded, colorful ribbon spiraling upwards and pulled apart to form a conical, open structure. Enlarged to 20 meters high and set on a knoll of grass in a median, the sculptureís red and blue diagonals redefine the space between the horizontal-vertical walls of the tall buildings that surround it.
In the illuminated ivory-colored interior, revealed between the turns of the outer structure, two flat ribbons are loosely intertwined, one a luminous blue, the other a peony red, suggesting the double helix of the DNA and reflecting the symbolism of the Korean flag: a Ying-Yang relation of similar colors representing the unity of opposites in Nature and the human spirit. The interior also contains a pool of moving water like a bubbling spring which visitors can observe through a four-meter high circular opening in the base of the shell.
Spring was given its precise form by Van Bruggen, working with computer graphics and milling procedures, carefully supervising samples of the surfaces and defining the colors of the work. The sculpture was engineered and managed by MICE Creative of Los Angeles and executed in Korea by a crew under the supervision of Professor Bae Jin-Hwan of the Korean National University of the Arts. The body of the work was made up of 200 pieces of cast aluminum, rough and ridged on the outside, smooth on the inside, attached to a frame of stainless steel in a way that minimized the appearance of supports, creating a buoyant effect of the whole. Fabrication followed an intense schedule, with the crew working day and night to meet an exacting date of installation required by the former Mayor of Seoul, Lee Myung-bak, the initiator of the Cheong Gye Chon project.