Paektusan Institute of Architecture
Paektusan Institute of Architecture is North Korea’s most prominent and well-established Architectural organisation. It is a state-owned entity located in Pyongyang, responsible for the design of all of the major buildings of North Korea.
Established in this location in 1982 and open to visitors interested in the architectural process in North Korea
Paektusan Institute of Architecture is in Pyongyang, not at Mt. Paektu. The name simply refers to the highest and most-revered mountain in the country.
Paektusan Institute of Architecture is located in central Pyongyang, near to the Ponghwa Metro Station, close to the Party Founding Museum.
It would probably be quicker to list the places not designed at the Paektusan Institute of Architecture as they have had a hand in pretty much everything of any consequence built in the DPRK for the past few decades.
From the Ryugyong Hotel to the Munsu Water Park, the prestige streets of Changjon, Mirae, Ryomyong, the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, and so much more.
Paektusan Institute of Architecture also has divisions involved in green technology (the Pyongyang Sci-Tech Centre is supposed to be a self-sustaining green building), air conditioning and interior climate technologies, construction materials, and more. Basically, anything to do with construction, design, architecture in general.
For the visitor, the entrance to the main building of the Paektusan Institute of Architecture is an impressive start. A huge mural of Pyongyang city centre. This highly-impressive piece of art is meant to demonstrate a lot of the iconic buildings that the Paektusan Institute of Architecture has been involved with, it is slightly uncanny though to those who know Pyongyang very well as artists recently added Changjon Street but haven’t yet added the state of Kim Jong Il at Mansu Hill, the completed Ryugyong Hotel is there (it remains incomplete), too.
So, this is not meant to be a painting of Pyongyang as it is now, but rather more a piece of art representing much of Pyongyang. Anyway, it is a great start to a visit to the Paektusan Institute of Architecture!
Guided around the Paektusan Institute of Architecture by one of the architects, visitors also get to see some boards showing some of the major buildings of the world and of world history, including the Kyz Kala in Ancient Merv, Turkmenistan.
Then visitors can see the main offices of the Paektusan Institute of Architecture – architects working on computers basically, a similar scene as in offices worldwide with folks working in cubicles, none of the violent propaganda that is common in other North Korean offices though, this is a more bright and airy space.
There are some actual blueprints to be seen but most of it is of course done via CAD these days.
With prior arrangement for specialist visitors a local architect can deliver a presentation about the work they do here, but even for casual visitors wanting the chance to see a white-collar office operation in Pyongyang a visit to the Paektusan Institute of Architecture is something worth considering.
You would be following in the footsteps of Kim Jong Un, too, here is a video of him giving on the spot guidance at the Paektusan Institute of Architecture in 2016.
There are a range of books available for purchase in North Korea about local architecture, try at the Foreign Languages Bookshop. For anyone interested in those published overseas the following can be highly recommended:
Model City: Pyongyang – by Cristiano Bianchi & Kristina Drapic
Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang – by Philipp Meuser