Within the sprawling metropolis of Seoul lies an island "forgotten by time." Sitting beneath the Hangang Bridge on the River Han, the floating lot is now nothing but a relic of a bygone era. Formerly a popular man-made beach and recreational area, the past forty years have seen the site erased from the collective consciousness of the city. To breathe new life into the island, the Nodeul Island Dream competition was opened, and Seoul-based MMK+ and Taehyung Park's proposal 'Reconfigured Ground' took first prize.
The proposal looks at the evolution of the island from constructed paradise to overgrown void. Throughout this evolution, an ecosystem has developed and gradual formal changes have taken place. The remote character of the island - currently accentuated by its abandonment - is to be transformed into a positive condition, as it becomes a cultural haven within the bustling city. The architects' design aims to "restore the wild nature of the island while re-programming its natural features as a cultural venue," once again making it a destination point for inhabitants of the city.
The project proposes a reconfiguration of the ground levels of the site, with a distinct upper and lower level hosting diverse public programs. The ground plane itself has been reconfigured to soften the jarring height difference between the island and the bridge which runs overhead. Two distinct circulatory loops - the upper and lower - form the basis for the distribution of new programs.
Though linked by open plazas and visual connectivity, the upper and lower level host distinctly separate programs. The upper loop is a smaller radius and connects the eco-learning center, Han River observatory, and the Nodeul Forest. In contrast, the larger lower loop wraps the whole island with a promenade, urban beach, bike center, and observation deck.
The upper-level hosts open public space, intended for temporary installations and gathering points. In contrast, the lower level is designed to accommodate start-up offices, shops, restaurants, plazas, market street, and a 500-person performance hall. Traditional Korean village settings (referred to as Maeuls) evolve here: where a small community of different programs and user groups coexist in harmony.
MMK+ said in a press release: Nodeul Maeul’s new structural system will be composed of a 10m x 10m modular precast concrete grid, integrated with a pre-installed flexible MEP system. The expandability of the system allows for a ”participatory design”, where the architect provides the framework, and the spaces are defined by a response to the users’ evolving needs. This dynamic, community-driven, typology brings unique opportunities for users and visitors, creating a place filled with historical values and limitless potential.
The existing island forest is augmented by a new planting strategy, designed to breathe new life into the established ecosystem. MMK+ and Taehyung Park propose a four staged approach comprised of; the preservation and removal of decaying plants, seeding and nurturing new plant-life, adding programmatic planting, and curating edge-defining planting. Diverse outdoor landscape programs are interlaced into the circulatory loops, enabling users to move through different natural and built conditions as move across the island.
For more information, check out the competition website, including the other prize-winning proposals.
LocationSeoul, South Korea
Design TeamPilsoo Maing, Jihoon Kim, Donghwan Moon
News via MMK+.