Founded by Christopher Lee and Kapil Gupta, their association and design values go way beyond Zaha Hadid’s reach in AA. They are theorists and practitioners who believe in decoding past structures down to graphical representations that can be put on paper. Also, their design iterations use symmetry, repetition, mirroring, translation, etc. Their focus drifts away from parametric and more towards craftsmanship and tectonics. They have a reputation in the public eye, with their expertise in civic, cultural and educational buildings.
Approach to design with strong reasoning and emphasis on geometry and innovative use of materials has driven this duo towards an innovative approach to construction. With constant experimentation and material exploration, they have contemporary design solutions for contemporary real-world problems.
About the Competition
We imagine our break from reality to be an escape, a haven of sorts to experience complete bliss and joy. The Metropolitan Government of Seoul announced an international competition in 2018, that focused on creating a music-led cultural complex. Their invitation was open to international and domestic specialists from the fields of architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. Their larger goal for the project was to increase people’s participation and publicity for the cultural complex.
At one point, all the trams ended up on this island which was called Jungjido. This was a popular spot where people enjoyed the sandy beach, river bathing, conducted parades on Armed Forces days and the Seoul Firework Festival. Previously, the island was covered in trees and farmland that connected Seoul by a bridge along the Hans river. The meaning of Nodeul means, ‘a stepping stone where white heron paddles.’
The government wanted a pop-music concert (500 seating capacity), a theatre for musicals, an in-house creative company facility, and a multi-purpose event area.
“This competition wants to find a monumental project in terms of public value,” said a government statement. “The most meaningful and practical project will win, not the most glamorous or enormous.”
The history of Nodeul goes back to Japan’s colonial period between 1910- 45, when the Hangang bridge was being constructed. It was once a popular spot for family events in the 1960s. This was until delayed development projects made this island desolate.
Nodeul Dream Island’s Design
A liminal node between a buzzing cityscape and a quiet suburb, the Metropolitan Government of Seoul, had plans to create a music hub that would bring scores of people to engage themselves in a facility for them. Serie Architects envisioned this metropolitan island as a floating wild oasis away from the buzzing it. Going back to the roots of the island itself, they planned on retaining the spatial memories of Nodeul whilst overlaying a futuristic vision for the future.
Their strategy for the future generations to experience fragments of the preserved landscape is by casting a layer of white concrete over individualised gardening beds, giving them a permanent footprint into the landscape. This adds on an interesting new layer onto the island, that gives the users a renewed presence of old and new in one space.
Restoration techniques like filling in cracks in the old buildings and exposing the rough texture of its former industrial era infrastructure give the viewer a skeletal preview of an age that was part of the island. The landscape follows the topography of the island, emphasising the geographical boundary, with minimal interventions. Each floor of this cultural complex has direct access to its adjoining landscape, highlighting the union of the built and unbuilt.
The commercial and office spaces follow a similar language along the lines of space and time, which is the change in the usage of spaces. These changes in spaces are exhibited through a structural framework that allows locals to adapt to its landscape according to its changing needs. Materials used for its construction are glass and wood, with an interplay of landscape and the built.
Although fast forward in 2019, the competition winners MMK and Taehyung Park hand over the completion of Nodeul Dream Island to the government of Seoul. The idea that was put forth by Serie Architects expressed the need for the landscape to speak to its audience, much like how music has the power to connect with people. Their proposal for the island reinforces their design beliefs as they continue to participate on the World platform, as a firm that aims to deduce the true essence of design into the fabric of its landscape.
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ArchDaily. (2016). MMK+ & Taehyung Park Transform Abandoned Island in Seoul Into New Cultural Hub. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/793134/mmk-plus-and-taehyung-park-transform-abandoned-island-in-seoul-into-new-cultural-hub