It is now of worldwide interest to re-think how our cities will adapt to a post-COVID-19 era, and take the necessary actions. Understanding that social distancing is of vital importance, our various daily-life spaces will face an inevitable change. Considering the current situation which calls for proper architectural solutions in response to the unprecedented pandemic, The Seoul Metropolitan Government is developing innovative concepts for new built environments, city spaces, and landscapes, able to adapt to this post-coronavirus era. Aligned with this approach, Seoul City has recently held an international Competition for Architectural Ideas in order to prepare for the post-COVID-19 world.
The contest gathered over 104 submissions from 15 different countries, of which the jury selected 4 winning works. With a variety of proposals highlighting the role of architecture in the midst of all these transformations, The Grand Prize was awarded to “The Invisible Facemask” by Hoang Nhat Anh, from Vietnam, the second prize to "School Zone" and the third prize was awarded to two different proposals, "Bus-Restaurant" and "Everybody's mine".
The competition's jury was composed of seven judges, including Spanish architect Daniel Valle, who is currently engaged in extensive activities in Korea and has made some remarkable reflections on the competition results. According to the verdict, "the most appealing proposals were the ones calling for temporary solutions, light interventions, or ideas that provide flexibility for future adaptation acknowledging that the pandemic is a crisis with an expiration date. The Grand Prize proposal is an exemplary design that promotes social distancing by organizing individual spaces separated by areas of vegetation while at the same time it provides the possibility to reconfigure the design after the pandemic is under control. Nature is a moldable material to work with and offers the possibility to transform those small and individual spaces surrounded by vegetation into larger plazas by simply trimming or transplanting plants to other locations within the same park."
On another hand, "in the same line of thought, a number of interesting works focused on the management of existing infrastructure in times of emergency such as adapting the school's facilities of the city to the needs of first health responders while at the same time preserving the safety of the students that attend classes". Read on for the results, and the descriptions of the projects.
The Invisible Facemask
Public spaces are being isolated as the safety of people cannot be ensured in the pandemic. This work was proposed as a method to protect the safety of people in social places rather than restricting architecture itself. Parks were determined as the target site since they are a top priority in every urban planning program anywhere in the world. First, perpendicular crossings with a size that restricts more than two people to walk on them were made. At the intersecting points, the heights of the two perpendicular crossings were different to avoid direct intersection. The personal spaces formed along these promenades allow users to be aware that space is just for one person. Furthermore, we hope that this place will continue to be operated as a park after the epidemic disappears.
This idea proposed a 'school' as a tool for spatial solutions. The school’s role as an infrastructure that the school has performed, such as a void in a densified city, placement strategy with equidistant intervals of around 1km, or the possibility of using the space, made the school an attractive means. In particular, the benefit of the placement of schools that are evenly distributed based on administrative standards is that it is an infrastructure that can be used by citizens within the walking sphere (8-10 minutes on foot). Furthermore, it became a condition as a suitable infrastructure that has accommodated the times of establishing local unit governance along with the Green New Deal. It implies the possibility of developing as a base for the local district's public administration and community in the post-COVID-19 city organization.
Although physical distancing is compulsory in our present situation, maintaining mental health is difficult. The vegan Bus-Restaurant proposes a safe space for people to eat and spend time together with their trusted ones. The highly infectious coronavirus can also spread through the surface of physical objects. This proposal aimed to prevent the spread in public spaces in the best way by choosing materials on which the coronavirus can survive the shortest and disinfecting the surfaces. The tables, various tableware, sinks, toilet paper cover, etc. were planned with copper, which the coronavirus can only survive for up to 4 hours, as the main material. In consideration of costs, not everything was made with copper and was supplemented by using aluminum and glass. By moving Bus-Restaurant’s operating location every two weeks, it was planned to allow people from all around the city to experience this.
This project presents a space of life that embraces each individual's independence and activity. It starts with assuming a building as a combination of units and establishing groups of unit spaces for each function. Each individual can determine the size and personality of the space to fulfill the functions needed for their life, and if and when needed, these unit spaces meet with the neighbor's space and are open. Although they cannot 'physically' contact each other, they experience a 'cognitive sharing' that 'we' are in one space and are doing the same activity together through 'indirect' contact using all five senses.
We invite you to check out ArchDaily's coverage related to COVID-19, read our tips and articles on Productivity When Working from Home, and learn about technical recommendations for Healthy Design in your future projects. Also, remember to review the latest advice and information on COVID-19 from the World Health Organization (WHO) website.