Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Boutique Monaco, Seoul
Posted June 2011
Boutique Monaco was recognized as a "Best Tall Building Asia & Australasia Finalist" in the 2009 CTBUH Awards Program.
Other Featured Tall Buildings

“Putting the resident first, Boutique Monaco is a haven in the sky, providing private green space where it's least expected. This is thinking well outside the window box.” 
– Ken Shuttleworth, CTBUH 2009 Awards Juror, Make

100m (328ft)
54,860 sq m (590,000 sq ft)
Primary Use

Bumwoo Co., Ltd.;
Leadway Co., Ltd.
Design Architect
MASS Studies

Structural Engineer
TEO Structure
HANA Consulting Engineers Co.
Other Consultants
Environmental Design Studio

Giving a unique perspective on the tall building, Boutique Monaco pushes beyond the extruded glass box, creating a dynamic and varied massing with its 15 voids distributed throughout its overall “U”-shaped form. In utilizing these voids to introduce gardens throughout the tower, the architects have provided a rich living experience for the tower’s residents, and a facility which is all-too-often a rarity for high-rise living—access to private, open green space.  These gardens lend an added quality critical to the balance of urban life.

The careful consideration and varying design of the individual residential units goes well beyond the typical extrusion of an efficient floor plate, avoiding a homogenizing effect and creating a fantastic variety of units with differing spatial configurations that relate to their context within the overall building form. The Boutique Monaco is, in many ways, light years ahead of the average, commercial high-rise tower.

This project involves the construction of a tower whose lower levels are composed of commercial, cultural, and community spaces and whose upper floors, from the fifth to 27th, are officetels, which are residences that could also be used as offices during the day.
To ensure the maximum building footprint ratio (40%) as well as optimal natural light conditions (southern exposure), a "C"-shaped plan is extruded into a 27-story tower consistent with the Domino Matrix to reach a height of 100 meters (328ft), the maximum height allowed by law. If this plan with a maximum footprint ratio had been simply repeated vertically, the floor space would have exceeded the legally allowed amount by approximately 10%. To reduce this mass then, missing matrices are introduced to meet maximum floor area ratio throughout the building, with a pattern of carved out space.
Figure 1. Close-up of the Southeast Facade
These 15 missing spaces allow the building to gain more exterior surfaces and corners for enhanced lighting and viewing conditions. The spaces created by missing matrices are landscaped with trees that are visible from the inside and outside of the building. Inside the tower, a total of 49 different types of units, 172 units in total, are arranged heterogeneously to reflect/exploit rich spatial conditions. For example, in the area created by the 15 missing matrices, there are 40 units with bridges that divide public (living/dining area) and private spaces (bedroom) within individual units, along with 22 units with gardens. In addition, protruding spiral staircases are planned within the missing matrices, further adding to the heterogeneousness of the interior.
Figure 2. From left to right: East, south, and west elevations. Colors indicate location of various unit types.
Figure 3. Staircases and Bridges Figure 4. From top to bottom: 4th floorplan (residential amenities), 13th and 27th floorplan (residential)
On the ground floor, the building opens up and connects to its surroundings with its urban park. The sidewalks are spacious at 9m (30ft) from its southern end, 10m (33ft) from the west, and 6m (20ft) from the east, allowing for small gardens and benches to provide a space of rest. The tall spaces of the first floor are occupied by retail stores and coffee shops, and they further encourage the use and the livelihood of this exterior space. At either end of the "U"-shaped floor plan are the lobbies for the residents, which are also strategically placed to be the closest from the parking drop-off zone. The center of the building front opens up to elevators and escalators connecting to the cultural functions below and more retail stores above, as well as a small pocket park in the center of the site, to be used as a cozy enclosure to rest in the midst of this metropolis.The second and third floors are composed of luxurious retail shops. Along with the fourth floor, a glass bridge with a bamboo garden on both sides spans 20m to complete the U-shaped floor plan into a full loop, enhancing its spatial functionality by completing the floor’s circulation.
Figure 5. Glass Bridges Figure 6. Ground Floor
The fourth floor has community facilities for the residents of the building. A bar/lounge space is placed in the center, with a business center, conference room and two guest rooms branching out to the east, and a fitness center, locker room, shower facilities, and a maintenance office to the west.

The roof is another garden, private to the residents only. Like the second, third, and fourth floor, a trussed bridge connects the opposite ends and creates a spectacular view from a height of 100 meters.
Figure 7. Fourth Floor

Related Links
CTBUH Skyscraper Center Profile:
Visit The Hotel Monaco (Missing Matrix) profile

Hotel Monaco recognized as a finalist in the 2009 CTBUH Awards Program:

Download the Hotel Monaco's 2009 CTBUH Awards Book Section
2009 CTBUH Awards Book

The CTBUH would like to thank Mass Studies for their assistance with this article. Photos © Yong-Kwan Kim
Drawings © Mass Studies