Seoul Foreign School Wins International Architecture Award

Submitted by: Liz Allen, Director of Communications and Marketing
Appeared on the ET Journal Fall Issue 2020


Seoul, South Korea:​ The Seoul Foreign School (SFS) High School has been honored with an International Architecture Award. The school and the building’s architects, Ennead Architects, have been recognized by the 2020 Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design with an International Distinguished Building, Landscape Architecture, and Urbanism Award. Since 2004, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design, together with The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and Metropolitan Arts Press, Ltd., have organized The International Architecture Awards to honor “the best, significant new buildings, landscape architecture, and planning projects designed and/or built around the world’s leading architects, landscape architects, and urban planners practicing nationally and internationally.” As a winner of the program, the project will be included in the 2020 book: Global Design + Urbanism XX: New International Architecture.

The SFS High School provides students with an environment that combines the college and high school experiences. To facilitate this, the building was designed to incorporate “third spaces” for learning and collaboration that are neither the classroom nor the home in the university proven tradition to support learning both within and outside the classroom.

The classrooms themselves were designed in collaboration with faculty and administration to be the ideal size and proportion, and also flexible enough to support a variety of teaching styles and desk configurations. The walls in the classroom can be used as both writable and projectable surfaces, further increasing flexibility. Solar analyses were conducted to determine the optimal configuration of exterior sun shades to allow natural light into the classrooms without excessive glare. “The design of the High School building has allowed us to transform the student learning experience at Seoul Foreign School,” said Colm Flanagan, Head of School. “Not only has it created collaborative spaces and flexible classrooms to give our Grade 9-12 students new ways to pursue academic and creative excellence, but it is a beautiful and bright environment in which our whole community can gather, work and socialize.”

“We were excited to have the opportunity to work with Seoul Foreign School on a building that truly supports and advances their vibrant culture of learning and collaboration,” said Peter Schubert, Design Partner at Ennead Architects. “This is a very environmentally expressive building, one that prioritizes wellness, daylight, natural materials, and the links between the built and natural world. We looked to the balance between openness and privacy that is typical of traditional Korean architecture as we designed a space that draws the landscape into the building and draws the classroom into the landscape through multiple outdoor learning areas.”

Seoul Foreign School (SFS), an international independent school in Seoul, South Korea, was established in 1912. Home to more than 1450 students, SFS provides both International Baccalaureate (IB) and the English National Curriculum to its pupils ranging in age from 2-18 years.

Ennead Architects is an internationally-acclaimed, New York-based studio with offices in New York City and Shanghai. Renowned for its innovative educational, cultural, scientific and civic building designs that authentically express the progressive missions of their institutions and enhance the vitality of the public realm, Ennead is a leader in the design world. The recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Institution-Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, the AIA NY Medal of Honor, and the National AIA Firm Award, as well as numerous design awards for individual buildings, Ennead has a body of work that is diverse in typology, scale and location, but rooted in a deeply-held conviction that the most compelling architectural expressions echo our society and culture and enhance the life of our cities.