MAGOK WATERFRONT, SEÚL, KOREA DEL SUR
If it's to be found, it`s found on Google.
The Soul of Seoul: Hankang
The Han River which transects Seoul and the rest of the Korean peninsula was the cradle of civilization during the Three Kingdom Period and a trade route for commerce, making the Han River symbolic on a national scale. That is, the history of the Han River shaped the city of Seoul, its people and its motherland. Likewise, we believe the new development around the Han River is what will define the capital and its future. Thinking ahead, the Han River will act the baseline for the new image of Seoul but will also extend itself to the rest of South Korea as a future and holistic approach to the Han River Renaissance Project. Therefore, this project aims to provide the design for a waterfront city applicable not only to Seoul but to the river throughout South Korea.
The central approach is to transform the morphology of the Han River in contrast to the natural landscape through a set of enormous letters and characters whose superimposed forms create islands, bridges and canals throughout the landscape. Thus the Han River as viewed from the horizon and from a bird’s-eye perspective will create a thoughtful and distinctly unique image of the Han River. As viewed from above, the shapes and forms will be legible and familiar, bringing an identity and association to Seoul previously non-existent.
Hangul Day: Time to Celebrate
The uniqueness of this design starting with the Magok waterfront sets a precedent along the river’s new role both in the dimensions of space and time. Designated as an area that will attract locals, visitors and drive business, the Magok waterfront could also be the site of the national holiday on October 9th, Hangul Day, with the hopes of transforming the area into a destination festival of international relevance. As a commemoration of the invention of the Korean language, amidst a turbulent history, the proclamation of Hangul is both a historically and personally important statement. For a country that has experienced suppression and occupation, conserving the Korean language is deeply seeded in the Korean psyche. Every Korean can identify with the pride of being a Korean speaker when one’s forefathers were forbidden to speak it. Speaking Korean was a demonstration of ownership of person and culture as asserted through the language. In its own way it is a declaration of independence.
How appropriate it is then, to extend the awareness and celebration of the Korean language through an international festival hosted in a stunning concept landscape that elegantly incorporate the very characters of the Korean language, on the Magok Waterfront? Or what about a national celebration along the Han River so the celebration resonates throughout the backbone of the country? As a symbol of Seoul and South Korea, the location of the Hangul Day event on the Magok Waterfront and Han River create a compelling synergy. The festival perpetuates the importance of the site and the site reiterates the presence of the Korean language to Korean speakers and visitors alike.
If it’s to be found, it’s found on Google
In the information age, Google is a household name that is equivalent to information and search. It holds the number one position for most-used web portal, as internet users can effectively and quickly locate the information in question.
As the first organization to bring extensive satellite imaging and mapping to consumers, the internet user is increasingly turning to the navigational and mapping tools by Google. With this understanding, our architectural design leverages the idea that images of the Han River as rendered in Google Earth will appear as a outline of giant letters and characters that will be identifiable as the Han River and Magok Waterfront. The ability to map and observe these architectural forms create a stunning visual effect in the maps that will be familiar to the viewer as Seoul as seen typographically and topographically. From Google Earth, the Magok Waterfront will become the new symbol, and clearly distinct from other waterfront cities and rivers in the world. Furthermore, billions of internet-connected users will be able to read this map and the symbolism of the Han River through the universal medium of letters.
Talking architecture: Words=Purpose
Letters, characters and graphical symbols are all visual forms of communication that act as vehicle for the language. The written word is used to communicate in a way that speech does not since there are simultaneously literal, figurative and symbolic meanings to letter forms. With the use of letters and words as the mediums that drives our architectural design the territory will be transformed into the lines and shapes that form the letters while simultaneously remoulding the physical landscape.
A balancing act: Ying & Yang
Full and empty, water and land, artificial and natural…these are just several of the instances where Ying & Yang, a coexistence of opposites, which form a balanced whole, illustrates the existence of a natural and philosophical harmony.. Just as in the waxing and waning of the tides, the natural pendulum between high and low levels represents the homeostatic nature of bodies of water where water is never lost, but converted from one form to another, or displaced from one space to another. Likewise, water and land share a similar play of space and form, since in the river environs, what is not occupied by land is occupied by water and vice versa. Furthermore, the construction of the waterfront by reshaping the river, riverbank and the land, no longer appears artificial since where earth is emptied, somewhere else a void is filled.
Since the fluctuations in these elements are natural and cyclic, so should the profile of the river be with respect to the rest of the city. The intention is not to create a rigid design that would be contradictory to the dynamic nature of the river, but to embrace the changing tides as a tool that complements the play of conceptualized design. When the tides advance, they will mask some of the letters and forms in the landscape and when the tides recede, they will reveal words and meanings that are only visible with the shroud of water removed