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Case study Amorepacific Headquarters, South Korea

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

As part of our SLD research-in-practice project, we are sharing inspiring existing projects and/or collaborations in a case study format, that touch at least one of the 4 main topics we are investigating. Today we are happy to present a new case study, this time with focus on circular lighting design in commercial buildings: Amorepacific Headquarters.

This case study includes strategies for energy efficiency and circularity .

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Amorepacific is South Korea’s leading beauty company and one of the biggest in Asia. The new headquarters completed in 2017, was designed by David Chipperfield Architects (DCA) in collaboration with HAEAHN Architecture, KESSON and Arup. The building is located in Seoul's Yongsan district. It is an elegant 110m tall cube with 216,000m2 of floor space centered around a courtyard, part of whichis glazed to provide daylight into the atrium below.

As a brand that promotes health and beauty in society, Amorepacific aimed to exemplify this within their building design. The project's core sustainability goals were to achieve Gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system (which was awarded in 2018 under Core& Shell category) as well as exceeding the Korean Green Building Code requirements by using significantly less energy, water and materials than the standard Korean construction practices.

Working with lighting designers was a key for meeting the lighting demands

of different room types, while achieving the project's sustainability goals. For that,

David Chipperfield Architects teamed up with Arup to provide a solution based on

Circular Economy (CE) principles.

Applying 'Circular Economy’ principles affects both the environmental and economical aspects of the design. In a circular economy, business models are underpinned by designs that enable products to be reused, components re-manufactured, and materials recycled. This can be achieved by reusing and redistributing components and materials that are already in circulation as opposed to recycling or disposing them. There are a number of challenges when bringing remanufactured products to market, from the perception of lower quality to the logistics of keeping track of inventory, but the scope for improvement here presents potential economic opportunity.

This principle was achieved in Amorepacific's lighting scheme through modularity, upgradeabilty, and adaptability of the lighting products, which were also designed for disassembly, resulting in an elegant and highly maintainable lighting system overall.


The first principle of circular design is to reduce consumption and waste.

Therefore, DCA and Arup chose to optimize the use of daylight on the floor plans

and reduce solar gains to consequently reduce the energy needs for electric lighting

and for cooling the building. A bespoke facade composed of vertical fins of different

depths and patterns, depending on the orientation of each facade, was designed to

provide solar shading and reduce solar gains, resulting in a consistent daylight distribution,

even across the lowest office floor plans.

The building's 8000 occupants represent more than 40 brands under one roof, necessitating a wide variety of working spaces. This created a need for various light atmospheres in the building, and was achieved by patented luminaires with different light distributions. The

usual design response to those needs would have been a huge variety of luminaire product types and manufacturers, so instead, the team sought to find an approach that would enable all their lighting schemes to be achieved from a single luminaire family.


With a variety of spaces to cater for (such as a museum, auditorium,

restaurant, retail and office space) different lighting schemes were

required. To meet the different needs in the most sustainable way possible, DCA and Arup developed a modular, adaptable and re-usable LED luminaire system with the posibility of attaching decorative and technical lenses, providing wide range of lighting performances. A series of lensed disks were developed to provide 12 different

light distribution performances when including colour temperature and output options. These combinations were then made available in recessed, surface-mounted, adjustable and pendant versions of the fixture creating up to 30 possible combinations.

Standardisation was a key circular design principle in this case. The Amorepacific luminaire system development (Viabizzuno AMP) deliberately uses a single lamp body to cater for the different outputs and power supplies ensuring commonality between the 22,000 luminaires,allowing them to be more readily maintained. The range has tool-less, interchangeable lenses and luminaires that are easily removed using quick coupling connectors allowing lights to be modified and adapted to any changes in the building’s use without compromising the appearance of the ceiling. Lenses are designed in such a way

that they can also be combined with newer heat sinks and LED modules.

Arup have advised that all components making up the luminaire are replaceable

and recyclable. A key difference is the manner in which upgrades can be made.

Electronic sources and lenses can be swapped over without the need for an electrician or specialist engineer, making maintenance far easier and consequently less expensive. This is a simple yet key feature that the lighting industry has largely lost

since the migration from conventional light sources to LED. In addition, both the luminaire

body made of aluminium and the lenses of polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA),

are fully recyclable.

The Amorepacific luminaire system is a world wide tested and approved product allowing for re-manufacturing and redistribution of the original luminaire (or lenses) to any market. This conserves embodied energy but crucially avoids the green house gas emissions associated with recycling and production of new materials.


The circularity of a lighting design solution is a holistic design approach and should not be assessed on the product alone. However an increased interest in circular design means that assessment tools for life cycles are being developed. An example of this is the TM66 [1] developed by CIBSE which contains an assessment tool called the Circular Economy Assessment Method (CEAM). CEAM 'Make' is currently a self certified assessment aiming to provide a circular economy 'score' between 1 (very poor) and 4 (excellent) to help

manufacturers in gauging product's strengths and potentials in terms of CE principles.

The assessment is split into four categories, product design, manufacturing techniques, material use and the businesses ecosystem.

Using the CEAM Make assessment tool, the Amorepacific luminaire system (Viabizzuno AMP) achieved a score of 2.2 out of 4, which is considered a good result keeping in mind that the system was developed in 2017. The designers were pioneers in taking a circular approach towards the system's design by making sustainable choices along the design and production process.

But what are the potential areas for improvement? The luminaire scored well on 'Product Design' due to it's modularity and 'Ecosystem' which covers items such as support and warranties to assist with product life span. However its biggest potential for improvement was in 'Materials' and 'Manufacturing'. TM66 awards points for innovative material use and processes such as on site recycling, using non-virgin materials and additive manufacturing which are not currently applied to this product range.


It's worth noting that most projects will need to tailor how they apply circular design principles. Location, supply chain, aesthetics, programme and budget will all impact the available options for re-use of existing products. But above all, a client and design team commitment is needed to put CE principles at the centre of a project to overcome logistical complexities of supply chain, re-use and redistribution. There are three key aspects to the design in this case study that will improve the likelihood of products' circularity on a long term:

Reduction - Use of daylight and reduced material and energy consumption in the process.

Building identity - The lighting design supports the architecture's identity that is both minimalistic and elegant. The Amorepacific luminaire system uses the strategy of product attachment which is a circular product design principle that aims to reduce the fast disposal of products. This is achieved by using classic form factors and by seamlessly integrating the lighting with the identity of the building, improving the products' chances of being retained over time.

Standardisation - The concept of ‘fit & forget’ is possibly one of the most damaging approaches to design that has been influencing the lighting design industry in recent years. It promotes negligence and deters engagement with the lighting system and associated control and maintenance. Standardisation and maintainability of this design was driven by the need for flexibility of spaces, which ensured that this system can be engaged with and maintained regularly without the need for specialist contractors.

Read the full case study inside the final report, starting on page 48:


We would like to thank Emilio Hernandez, lighting designer and co-founder of Ström, for having a direct contact with Arup and Viabizzuno to collect the needed information for this case study. We would also like to thank our contacts at Arup; André Martins, senior lighting designer, Alexander Rotsch, associate director and Europe lighting leader, for providing all the necessary information for this case study. Furthermore, we would like to thank Amedeo Musazzi, representing Viabizzuno, for giving permissions to use the images of the luminaires, and contributing with the TM66 assessment.


[1] CIBSE. (2021). TM66 - Creating a circular economy in the lighting industry. Retrieved from CIBSE:

[2] Viabizzuno. (2022).


- ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION. (2019). Completing the picture: how the circular economy tackles climate change. Retrieved from

- MATERIAL ECONOMICS. (2019). Industrial Transformation 2050 - Pathways to Net-Zero Emissions from EU Heavy Industry. Retrieved from

- Arup. (2019). The Arup Journal 2019. Retrieved from


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