Changdong-Sanggye Urban Regeneration Project is aimed to excite the Northeastern region of the city of Seoul and provide new job and culture opportunities for its citizens.

Our vision for the Staged Urban Masterplan learns from the context’s geography –a valley between mountains- to articulate the large designated territory at the center of this valley.

Project : Generation-Convergence Start-up Center and the Seoul Northern 50 Plus Campus
Location:  Changdong-Sanggye, Seoul, Korea
Date of competition:  2017 (2nd Prize)
Author of the project: Antón García-Abril & Débora Mesa Molina

Project team: Ensamble Studio
Simone Cavallo
Massimo Loia
Joakim Aslund
Argyris Mavronikolas
Mengyuan Cao
Monica Acosta

Developer: Seoul City
Area: 334,750 m2 (masterplan)
16,500 m2 (building)
Program: Educational / Office
Photo credits:  Ensamble Studio

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet2
©Ensamble Studio

Major infrastructural lines -including railroad, subway and vehicular networks- structure the new development area and partially resolve transportation needs while public space and pedestrian circulation require greater levels of articulation and compatibility, as part of the long-term comprehensive plan. The Jungnang river creates a North-South spine that brings recreational and environmental opportunities yet to be explored.


Our vision for the Staged Urban Masterplan maximizes the landscape potential of the site to create an exciting urban environment. Functionality and urban quality are balanced, and an Innovation Park is proposed as unifying natural landscape that brings together the different projects planned for the area, and has the potential to connect them also with Jungnang river through a series of recreational areas and circulation paths. Pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular communication between buildings and sections of the masterplan is guaranteed by the continuity of these paths through both existing and new networks.

Concepts like openness, continuity, urbanity, interaction, flexibility and innovation, become key to guide design decisions.


The proposed scheme identifies two landscape sections connected by the Culture and Art Theme Street that runs East-West:

– The South section optimally connects and relates to the public transportation infrastructure arriving to the site. Here main transportation, transfer, distribution, commercial and logistic centers are to be located, to serve the rest of the masterplan programs as well as other neighboring areas.

-The North section fully develops the natural landscape of the complex, the Innovation Park, and houses the cultural and recreational programs.

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet4
©Ensamble Studio

Road and major vehicular networks follow the grid pattern of the city and connect to Chang-dong and Nowon stations, while alternative paths for pedestrians and bikes allow for enjoyable itineraries throughout the complex. The three new planned bridges that cross the river are critical part of the overall circulation system to create the appropriate continuities between the East and West sides.


The design of the landscapes that conform Changdong-Sanggye Urban Regeneration Project pays special attention to intensifying the qualities of the surrounding context.

The presence of the river and the mountains and the articulation of a rich system of public spaces that make the most of environmental qualities of the context will guarantee a sensible integration of the new development in the area.

Essential elements in Korean traditional gardens take relevant presence in the design of outdoor spaces: sun, stars, water, rocks, stones, and trees. Continuity and contrast between open spaces and built structures is also part of the strategy, to reinforce idea of man-made buildings inside a natural landscape.

Strategies to make compatible vehicular with pedestrian and bicycle ways can combine a variety of actions to effectively separate them: creating underground expressways for vehicles or alternative paths through park landscape for both bicycles and pedestrians are two of them.

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet5
©Ensamble Studio


As essential part of the Changdong-Sanggye Urban Regeneration Area and one of the first buildings to be developed, the Generation-Convergence Start-up Center and

Seoul Northern 50 Plus Campus becomes relevant to set the tone of the new complex and start its activity.

Our proposal brings together complementary natures: urban and landscape, ground and sky, knowledge and innovation, to build state of the art platform for living, working and learning.

Integrated within the masterplan landscape and infrastructure systems, the building provides smooth transitions between the context and the interior activity, provoking enriching synergies.

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet7
©Ensamble Studio


The proposed architecture defines a primary three-dimensional framework that supports and serves the different programs and has the capacity to be actively developed, upgraded or completed over time.

This framework resolves the main structure and infrastructure and, inside it, a variety of architectures can take place according to needs, enabling the appropriate continuity or independence between them.

Originating from a carved ground it builds an abstract topography as transition from park to city. Special attention is paid to circulations and views between different functional areas and with the background context balancing visibility and privacy.



The lower levels accommodate those functions that profit from greater continuity with the adjacent landscape and transportation networks and that can easily accessed by the general public, this is: parking, lobby, gallery, event space and café.

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet9
©Ensamble Studio


From the carved ground through a carefully studied system of vertical circulations, users gain access to the Start-up Center, the 50 Plus Campus, the NPO Center and the residential area, each enjoying a particular position in the building. The top levels are reserved for more restricted gathering, event and terrace spaces -shared by the main users of the building- enjoying panoramic views.


Circulation systems are intelligently planned to guarantee optimum accessibility and functionality, taking into account both vehicular and pedestrian needs, as well as the needs of a diversity of users.


Vehicular access provides a smooth transition from the adjacent roads to the parking area distinguishing service from public circulations and generating circulation loops that separate vehicular traffic from other means of access. Sufficient loading/unloading and parking spots are provided for the activity and spaces are designed to enjoy natural light, ventilation and views to the park, enhancing the experience of the building from its underground level u


While the building can be accessed from various points, all entrances guide to a central lobby area from where main access to other programs can be controlled. Evenly distributed elevators and stairs allow easy circulation and evacuation, and complementary elements – bridges, mechanical stairs, ramps – are added as short- cuts, enhancing the experience of the monumental interior spaces. Three separate cores guarantee independent access and vertical circulation to the Start-up Center, the 50 Plus Campus and the residential area, allowing efficient communication

Circulation paths are designed to provide the appropriate levels of accessibility to the different areas of the program but also to comply with safety regulations for evacuation in case of emergency.

Start-Up Centre in Seoul. South Korea By Antón García-Abril - Sheet10
©Ensamble Studio



The Start-up Center and 50 Plus Campus building, needs to be exemplary in its environmental performance by making the most of the natural resources available: vegetation, wind, rain and geothermal energy. Their use through intelligent architectural design can help optimize mechanical systems and reduce energy consumption to a minimum attending the four seasonal climate of the region, andthe particular landscape features of the site.

Some main passive strategies to implement would involve: geothermal energy for heating and cooling, natural ventilation adapted to season, PV cells integrated in roof landscapes and water collection for irrigation.


The project minimizes the resources needed for its construction and proposes the use of technologies that will optimize quality, time and therefore also construction costs.

The primary framework is thought to be built with a hybrid concrete-steel structural system that uses locally available materials. It is designed as the skeleton able to support a variety of programs and efficiently supply them with up-to-date technologies; and it guarantees integration of infrastructures and spaces over time.

Attached to this framework, secondary structures enclose specific programs and provide them with particular climatic and light conditions. Materials used to build these spaces, adapt to their requirements for permanence, flexibility and expressiveness. The capacity of interior architectures and spaces to be redefined, and of new technologies and services to be progressively incorporated will guarantee the long life of the complex and its ability to innovate.


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