Magok Waterfront, Seoul

INTERNATIONAL DESIGN COMPETITION FOR THE MAGOK WATERFRONT, SEOUL 

The structure of landscape proposed interpreted and synthesised the structure of the surrounding landscape. The proposal emphasized the recognition of the landscape as an expression of pronounced artificiality – a cultural construction continuous in time, a physical translation of the interpretation of nature in each generation of inhabitants.

The structure of the new landscape – the new Magok Park – should be, above all, the interpretation of the contrasts between the vast plain and the autonomous mountains as a support for diversity and sustainable contrasts : geological, ecological, environmental and programmatical. Such was the potential condition we had inherited from the context itself.

The transformation proposed here was a result of an in-depth multi-disciplinary integration – from social inputs to complex hydrological and hydraulic solutions and the management of distinct urban contextualizations – but the synthesis of effective integration was led and managed by a global definition of landscape, as we have always considered this the real and intrinsic, and not instrumental, field for the productive synthesis of the functioning of the territory itself.

The themes introduced, while operative premises of the proposal, were not purely idyllic metaphors, but rather concepts rich in content and of direct application to the intervention area.

The duality water/time directed the degree of complexity in the landscape, both in terms of process and in the resulting form. The complexity was metaphoric but also, and above all, operative, since the new structure of the landscape would appear as something much more complex than a simple contrast.

Each of the proposed environments – water, plains, land elevations and potential interfaces between them – always has its own rhythm and time. The dynamics of each of these elements are cyclic; both annual and following the rhythms of the seasons. Additionally, each one designs a cycle of life of particular duration and movement. This oscillation has provided all kinds of potential situations of interface, adding richness to the site, as indeed happens with natural systems: fluctuation of tides, annual and daily diversity, load bearing capacities or relations between different actors.

The second large duality was that of excavation/landfill, specially when we sought to propose a large-scale intervention involving earthworks. Indeed, the great central lake resulted, in our proposal, from a complex process of excavation which necessarily raises a doubt about the surplus material. Where to place it? Which is the best method of transport on this massive scale? What would be the impacts on the city?

Searching for the sustainable principle of ‘zero balance’, the land resulting from the excavation of the lake led to the small range of elevations marking the limits of the intervention. These elevations would be capable of absorbing the excavated material.

These themes were responsible for the introduction of oscillations, which took on special significance in a system of artificial landscape that proposed, for example, constant pumping of water from the great central lake to the adjacent elevations, to create waterfalls and cascades. This system also served as a mechanism for constant purification and oxygenation of water.

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