Parallel Grounds - Cities between Density and Public Value
The 4th Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism revolves around the theme of “Land Architecture, Land Urbanism.” This theme underscores the importance of recognizing and restoring our connection to the land, encompassing land paths, waterways, and wind routes. As urban areas rapidly expand, there’s a pressing need to consider multi-level usage and interconnections within urban spaces. These considerations must balance between the density of the city and enhancement of public spaces. The Guest City Exhibition delves into these complex topics, questioning how we can invigorate the vibrancy at the ground level within multifaceted physical and socio-cultural terrains, and whether it’s possible to address urban density and public space in tandem.
The city, as we know it, starts at ground level. The ground level shapes our immediate urban experience and serves as the foundational stage for a myriad of activities, from personal interactions to events and commerce. Yet, as urban areas grow denser and more stratified, the very essence of this ground level is challenged by intricate dynamics. The segmentation and detachment of this crucial plane curtail the vibrancy and breadth of public activities within the city.
〈Parallel Grounds〉 emphasizes the quest to expand public spaces amidst increasing urban density. Its exploration operates on the belief that any successful densification strategy must inherently align with the underlying ground conditions. Rather than viewing densification merely as a vertical stacking of functions, the exhibition aims to redefine it as a means to bolster public engagement by reimagining the concept of the ground itself. To achieve this, the exhibition delves into the very essence of the ground, spotlighting city examples that are either broadening or reshaping their foundational terrains.
With this objective in mind, the exhibition poses six questions which form the exhibition’s six sub-themes. They encompass inquiries into the definition, nature, and value of the ground; strategies to harmonize density with public realms, private property against the greater public interest; methods for bridging urban voids or even crafting new terrains; and sustaining urban dynamism within multi-tiered urban environments. By looking beyond the allure of iconic landmarks and addressing the monumental challenges of urban development, we hope to understand the societal consensus necessary for refining urban spaces and directing our collective efforts towards the greater good.
Curator: Sang Soon Youm, Jinyoung Lim
Venue: Seoul Hall of Urbanism & Architecture, Seoul Citizens Hall
Assistant Curator: Solhee Yoon
Curatorial Assistant: Shinwoo Park, Jaejun Isaac Lee
Translation: Heather HyeSang Lee, Sunjin Kim
Panel Editing: Hye Min Song
Video Subtitling: Pyke Media
Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl’s architectural journey underscores a profound relationship with the land and an enduring commitment to integrating landscape and architecture. This approach epitomizes how the principle of Parallel Grounds can manifest in urban realms, carving out public spaces and bestowing green lungs. Through this exhibition, Steven Holl Architects seeks to illuminate how the Z-dimensional architectural philosophy evolved in synergy with the terrain, with a vivid display of the firm’s sketches and projects.
Berlin—City of Courtyards
Quest (Christian Burkhard & Florian Köhl)
During Berlin’s phase of rapid expansion, the formation of city blocks encapsulated existing plots, giving rise to spacious courtyards. These spaces, which sometimes were strictly functional or closed out, and in some cases destroyed by war evolved into vibrant public realms over time. Today, these courtyards are cherished pathways, doubling as public parks or even as green infrastructures that ingeniously recycle water through artificial wetlands.
In a deep dive into this transformative journey of Berlin, we’ll examine four representative cases, illustrating their rich history and the evolution of city’s physical structure into a treasured urban alcove. This exploration is poised to spark dialogues on how urban void can be reimagined to breathe life back into the cityscape.
Florian Köhl is currently a professor at the University of Kassel, he researched and taught for several years at the Technical University of Berlin and the Bartlett School of Architecture, London. He is also a co-founder of the NBBA (Network of Co-housing Architects in Berlin), Teameleven, and Instant City, Berlin. Florian Köhl founded the Berlin-based fatkoehl architects in 2002. A major trait of the studio's work is its constant search for ways of relating people through architecture with their urban surroundings. In this context, his studio spearheaded efforts to elaborate alternative architectural production models on an all but stale Berlin housing market in the early 2000s.
Artist: Quest, Laboratory for Urban Ecosystems, Berlin
Sponsor: Senate Department for Urban Development, Building and Housing Berlin
Idea and concept: Christian Burkhard & Florian Köhl
Design and layout: Tim Sawford
Collages and illustrations: Gabriel Fortenbacher
The Traditional House of the Future
John Lin and Lidia Ratoi / The University of Hong Kong
John Lin and Lydia Ratoi have extensively researched traditional habitats across China and are reimagining our relationship with the land. They intervene in these separated grounds, either transforming courtyards into areas for community engagement or introducing structures that connect the disparate elements. Through their work, the architects prompt us to consider: When traditional land usage no longer aligns with our needs, how should we rethink our approach and become actively involved?
Lidia Ratoi is an assistant professor at The University of Hong Kong – Department of Architecture. She holds a degree in robotic fabrication from IAAC Barcelona, the Open Thesis Fabrication program, and has previously completed her master’s studies in architecture at UAUIM, Bucharest. At HKU, she is currently coordinating the year 2 undergraduate degree and works on projects investigating material ecology and sustainability in the realm of robotic fabrication.
Layers of Public Life: Three Project Sections
Herzog & de Meuron
The landmarks - M+, a vast cultural hub in Hong Kong; the Elbe Philharmonic in Hamburg, Germany; and 1111 Lincoln Road, a multifaceted development in Miami Beach, U.S. - are not just focal points of architectural admiration, but they underscore a deeper narrative of community integration and amplifying civic participation.
To articulate this intertwining of urban flow and architectural design, Herzog & De Meuron employ expansive cross-sections and use QR codes to delve into the diverse community activities that each edifice nurtures.
The Athletes Village: A new district of the Grand Paris—Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games
The Athletes’ Village, primed for the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics, encompasses neighborhoods such as Île Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis, and Saint-Étienne-sur-Seine, all of which directly face the Seine. This village is crafted with six blocks, designated as ‘Island Boats’. This layout evocatively paints the image of “six islands in the Seine”, silhouetted against the urban horizon.
Fashioned to be slender yet elongated, the blocks lean towards the river, inviting its refreshing aura while fostering natural air corridors. The architectural design prioritizes vast green expanses and incorporates a central open space offering panoramic river vistas, thereby ensuring unobstructed views even from deep within each block. Additionally, with half of the entire athletes’ village earmarked as public areas, the compound exudes an airy, communal ambiance.
Cooperative Design for New Urban Infrastructures: TOKYO STATION YAESU DEVELOPMENT and MIYASHITA PARK
Tokyo, being a public transit-oriented metropolis, maximizes the areas around railway stations through a multi-layered utilization of the constrained space. These areas are transformed into pedestrian-friendly squares, forming a seamless network for easy mobility. Developed in collaboration with the private sector, they also merge parks and riversides, establishing interconnected spaces and fostering movement within layered public realms.
Urban plate tectonics
Cantonal And Urban Development Department In The Presidential Department Of The Canton Of Basel-Stadt; MIDERI ARCHITEKTEN
The area near the banks of the Rhine, once sealed off by medieval walls, underwent a transformation. By the early 21st century, with enhanced accessibility and water quality, it evolved into a vital public space after being integrated with the city’s center. Now, the riverside is a bustling hub where residents swim, take a walk, dine, and interact socially, strengthening its ties to Basel’s central areas. Additionally, buildings flanking the river are aiming to foster a more dynamic link by vacating their ground levels.
In this exhibit, MIDERI ARCHITEKTEN presents sensory videos capturing the Rhine’s flow side by side with desks detailing riverfront analyses. Through a blend of maps, visuals, and narratives, they shed light on the Rhine’s diverse influences, be they historical, cultural, sociological, geographical, or economic, and how the cultural communities along its expanse interact.
Pictures and Video: Maris Mezulis
Graphic design: Pascal Storz
The Wild Mile: Restoring Chicago’s Urban River
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Urban Rivers & Omni Ecosystems
The Chicago River, tainted and made inaccessible post-industrialization in the 1850s, has embarked on a 21st-century rejuvenation journey, repurposing the riverfront as a civic expanse. In an effort to revert the river to its natural wetland habitat from the last ice age, SOM in collaboration with Urban Rivers designed a sprawling 2,000-square-foot floating eco-park.
The “Wild Mile” initiative aspired to foster community engagement, amplify river access, and craft an environment where nature and wildlife flourish. This undertaking involved pinpointing and reviving native plant species across diverse river stretches. Central to the design approach is the modularity, enabling components to be merged and extended. Features such as floating modular platforms, tethered habitats, access ramps, observation decks, and docking units can be scaled and modified based on local demand and financial constraints. This showcases a blueprint for reinstating natural habitats utilizing a replicable design that doesn’t always hinge on cutting-edge technology.
Omni Ecosystems integrates science and design into working landscapes to improve resiliency within the built environment and empower healthier, happier humans.
Full Team List: SOM, Urban Rivers, Omni Ecosystems, Tetra Tech, Near North Unity Program, O-H Community Partners, d’Escoto Inc.
Monash Urban Lab
In the exhibition, every one of the 10 projects is summed up in a video and a brochure, each centered around distinct themes: Ravaged ground, Repaired ground, Reworking ground, hybrid ground, Bluestone Quarries, inclusive ground, Assembled ground, Sharing ground, Ripponlea, and Remaking ground. Drawing from an exhaustive range of research mediums—including video, photography, and written content—the exhibition comes together as a cohesive anthology named “Ground Melbourne”, chronicling Melbourne’s journey towards crafting sustainable and multifaceted urban spaces.
Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook (2012)
Adam Frampton, Jonathan D. Solomon, and Clara Wong
Scholars Adam Frampton, Jonathan D. Solomon, and Clara Wong characterize Hong Kong as a "city without ground". They paint a picture of Hong Kong as a seamless interior labyrinth of intertwined spaces, where transport routes, pedestrian pathways, commercial centers, and building lobbies weave together across multiple levels to sculpt a singular, cohesive structure. The city's distinctive tapestry of pedestrian overpasses, its remarkable vertical density, combined with climatic factors, offers a window into a prospective blueprint for future urban public spaces.
In a setting where ground space is severely limited, Hong Kong's urban life births a distinct culture. Malls become arenas for both exhibitions and protests, walkways transform into meeting points for domestic workers, and streets evolve into dining spots and dance venues. The artist illustrates how Hong Kong underscores the potential and resilience of public spaces, even without conventional groundings like plazas. Reflecting this, the sketches showcase the intricate interconnections of the city's foundations, offering a three-dimensional portrayal of Hong Kong's reimagined ground.
Project Lead: Cyrus Penarroyo
Creating Conditions for Freedom
The exhibition delves into the necessity of creative 'restrictions' and balancing freedoms to rejuvenate vital city areas like riversides and train stations. A specific focus will be on strategies that manage the density of new constructions while preserving the existing urban landscape and aligning with market needs. Additionally, the exhibit will explore the dynamics between various programs crucial for revitalization. This exposition underscores that impactful and sustainable urban evolution demands designs that involve a broad spectrum of city stakeholders, interpret regulations insightfully, and expand upon them.
The City, The Water, The People… The Bio Region
Jorge Perez Jaramillo Arquitecto
At the city level, the Land Management Plan of Medellín is featured; at the metropolitan tier, the strategy for the Aburrá Valley is highlighted; and at a broader regional scale, the water-centric initiatives and macro-processes of Antioquia are explored. These macro-level strategies, rooted in nature, craft urban planning around aquatic ecosystems. They emphasize the information systems and land understanding that influence project decisions.
The MDE Urban Lab, having contributed to this initiative, manifests the expansive process of innovative thought and urban interpretation, encapsulated in the design of maps, information platforms, and databases.
Coordination: Jorge Pérez-Jaramillo_Architect.
Team members: Carlos Fernando Cadavid Restrepo_Chemical Engineer, Camilo Chaverra Monsalve_Lawyer, Santiago Cadavid Arbeláez_Architect, María Camila Diez J_Architect, Isabel Grisales M_Architect
Public Density and the New Heritage: Tokyo’s Urban Redevelopment
Jiewon Song + Sanghoon Youm + CAT LAB
Tokyo's urban metamorphosis is marked by its grandiosity and the unified efforts spanning multiple institutional and societal mechanisms. These efforts are manifest in the form of sweeping public announcements, robust disaster evacuation facilities, and enhanced pedestrian pathways. In exchange, developers receive incentives that modify traditional floor area ratios. This exhibition delves deep into the historical evolution of the Nihonbashi and Marunouchi districts. Through 'Voidscape' drawings, we capture and represent the resulting urban tapestry, offering a three-dimensional perspective of ground-level spaces.
When we view public spaces through a 3D lens—emphasizing vertical and horizontal proportions over mere area—it offers fresh insights into the urban fabric. Tokyo's approach, which involves leveraging floor area ratios, ambitious development projects, and the expansive reach of its public spaces, prompts us to reflect on the symbiotic relationship between economic interests and public welfare in high-density settings.
Sang Hoon Youm graduated from Seoul National University and Columbia University and he is currently an Associate Professor at Yonsei University and runs the CAT Architecture & Urban Design Lab. His research focuses on architectural & urban design strategies, urban boundaries, architectural welfare, and psychology & architectural design. His architectural design and research has been commissioned and exhibited worldwide and have received various architectural awards.
Team: Jiwon Kang, Minji Kim, Hyeongseok Kim, Hyelim Yu, Ara Cho, Sumin Hong
Ikebukuro, Tokyo: Probably Public Space?
Christian Dimmer + Keigo Kobayashi
Historically perceived as an edgier, less-central district of Tokyo, Ikebukuro is undergoing a transformation, curating new public spaces to shed its erstwhile image and bolster its appeal. With a rich tapestry of theaters, Dimmer and Kobayashi conceptualize these emerging spaces as actors on Ikebukuro's urban stage. Much like a thespian who oscillates between their onstage persona and their offstage self, these POPS in Ikebukuro echo the juxtaposition of public facades over private nuances.
Visitors are encouraged to engage with Ikebukuro's vibrant tableau, reconstructing its urban narrative, and to ponder upon the true essence of urban spaces. Through this, they can explore and reshape the character of a city's spaces, reevaluating the balance between private ownership and public utility.
Keigo Kobayashi graduated from the Department of Architecture at Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, and completed a Master’s Degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, USA, in 2005. He was involved in numerous major projects at an architecture design firm called OMA in Rotterdam with Rem Koolhaas until 2012. Kobayashi’s recent works involve a wide variety of spatial designs such as buildings, furniture, and exhibition designs. He designed the 2014 Venice Biennale Japanese Pavilion Exhibition and Gordon Matta-Clark Exhibition in the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in 2018.
Project Team: Abudjana Haider Elwaseela Babiker, Christy Elias, Misato Fujii, Sorami Ikoma, Owen Hendrik Law, Jun-Rong Lin, Ryuto Otsuka, Ha Eun Park, Yuri Park, Sachi Sawamura, Selenay Yakin
Hudson Yards, New York
Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF)
Representing the most extensive private real estate development in U.S. history, and ranking among New York City's most intricate construction undertakings, Hudson Yards seamlessly integrates with the renowned High Line to its south and is punctuated by towering office edifices on either side. The visionary transformation of a once-neglected railroad depot into a pulsating hub adorned with public spaces, cultural initiatives, and enveloping skyscrapers underscores the imperative of thoughtful planning in grand-scale urban development.
Client: Related Companies, Oxford Properties Group
Photos: Connie Zhou, Raimund Koch, Aaron Fedor, Related Companies, Michael Moran/OTTO, Justin Whiteford, Google Maps, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Bernstein Associates Photographers
Video: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Earth Cam, Aaron Fedor
Microclimatic Infrastructure: Tempering Public Space in a Dense Tropical City
Christine Yogiaman and Kenneth Tracy with Hendriko Teguh
Christian Yogiaman, Kenneth Tracy, and Hendriko Teguh delve into this evolution by spotlighting two iconic structures: the Golden Mile Complex, the brainchild of architects William Lim, Gan Eng On, and Tay Keng Soon, and the South Beach Road Tower by the renowned Foster & Partners. Inaugurated in 1973, the Golden Mile Complex stands out with one of the earliest and grandest air-conditioned atriums within a mixed-use setting. Despite being on the cusp of needing rejuvenation, the building garners significant public sentiment advocating its preservation.
Conversely, the South Beach Road Tower, a product of Foster & Partners, incorporated advanced climate simulation and parametric design, fostering innovative passive strategies. This led to the extension of a shade-providing canopy across the entire city block, paving the way for a rejuvenated urban setting. The outcome? A public domain that offers a refreshing microclimate, balancing permeability with comfort. This pioneering venture serves as a testament to the possibility of public spaces harmoniously coexisting with challenging climates.
Kenneth Tracy is an Assistant Professor in Architecture and Sustainable Design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Previously Tracy taught at the American University of Sharjah, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Washington University where in 2009 he established a fabrication research lab. In 2010 Tracy co-founded Yogiaman Tracy Design. Formerly Tracy was a founding partner at Associated Fabrication, a digital millwork shop and consultancy in Brooklyn, NY whose clients include Zaha Hadid Architects, the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Chanel, Vito Acconci, and MoMA.
Olympic Sculpture Park and Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park
One iconic transformation is Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park. Previously a contaminated industrial zone isolated by railway lines and major roads, it was reimagined into a 'Z'-shaped verdant platform. This innovative design ensures an uninterrupted passage from the Seattle Art Museum straight to the waterfront.
Similarly, the more contemporary Hunters Point South Waterfront Park rejuvenates an erstwhile industrial space into an ecological artery, marrying the principles of landscape, architecture, and infrastructure. This transformation emphasizes sustainability. Concrete barriers give way to flexible infrastructure, bolstering the area's defense against potential flooding.
These exemplar projects spotlight nature's inherent adaptability. By forging new pedestrian connections and embracing ecological restoration, they underscore a holistic design approach that seamlessly integrates infrastructure, landscape, and architectural elements.
Olympic Sculpture Park
Artist: WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
Client: Seattle Art Museum
Photo: ©Iwan Baan, courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI
Video: ©Michael Selditch and Robert Tate, courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI
Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park
Artist: SWA/Balsley and WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism
Client: New York City Economic Development Corporation
Photo: ©Lloyd/SWA, courtesy of SWA/Balsley and WEISS/MANFREDI
Video: ©Spirit of Space, courtesy of WEISS/MANFREDI
Janette Kim with Hannah Leathers and Bennett Grisley
In Oakland, a prominent hub for West Coast blues, the East Bay real estate investment cooperative, EB PREC, acquired the Orbit Room. Their mission was to assist low-income inhabitants and merchants and to advocate for communities of color who had been sidelined from housing loan benefits. To shield the land from speculative market forces, the cooperative has set a ceiling on shareholder gains. Furthermore, it knits together labor, culture, and various activities to forge a tight-knit community.
Through a meticulous study of reports, oral accounts, and advisory documents on design, the artist employs color layering techniques to unravel the multifaceted and sometimes conflicting economic, societal, and architectural narratives surrounding property ownership. The work underscores the potential for new landowners to innovate, steering the rejuvenation and reciprocal dynamics of land utilization.
Aging TOgether: Inclusive Aging-in-Place Strategies for Toronto
Victor Perez-Amado, Vinaya Mani
Toronto, which is witnessing an increase in its elderly population, now has more senior citizens than individuals under 15. Areas predominantly consisting of single-family homes are projected to predominantly house those aged 65 and over in the forthcoming six years. Given the rising number of communities for seniors and public housing projects, it's crucial to re-evaluate the physical infrastructure and layout of these neighborhoods to be more accommodating to the elderly demographic.
Victor Perez-Amado seeks to introduce innovative housing models and urban design guidelines that cater to the needs of the aging population, especially focusing on marginalized groups like the elderly and LGBTQ seniors. He presents fresh legislative initiatives, policies, and even ground designs tailored for LGBTQ senior communities, anchoring his proposals on the idea of "chosen families."
Green, Cultural and Entertaining: The Total Renewal of the Central Park of Budapest
To safeguard the park's verdant expanses, the design approach leveraged existing structures and peripheral areas, and looked below ground level to ensure that new edifices did not overshadow the tree canopy. This vision encompassed projects ranging from the restoration of a century-old art museum to the inception of SOU Fujimoto's House of Music Hungary. Moreover, the soon-to-be-unveiled National Gallery, a masterpiece by SANAA, adds to this tapestry of architectural brilliance.
The rejuvenation project, dubbed LIGET BUDAPEST, has birthed an array of cultural hubs, flaunted the genius of globally renowned architects, and epitomized the synthesis of a verdant park with cultural landmarks.
The Radiance of Metropol Parasol: Affordances and appropriations of an urban soul
J. MAYER H. and Partners
This timber-clad marvel, which revitalized the epicenter of the Old Town into a multifaceted urban hub, has found its visage even in unlikely places like cat food advertisements. Jürgen Meyer & Partners have curated a diverse collection of images and footage, painting a vivid tapestry of how the Metropol Parasol not only galvanized urban vibrancy but has also etched itself as a symbolic urban motif. This narrative underscores the quintessential role of iconic structures in molding urban communal arenas and fostering engagement with the activities they host.
Nordic Sustainable Cities (Danish Architecture Center)
Klimatilpasning Kokkeda / Kokkedal, Denmark
Park’n’Play_JAJA Architects / Copenhagen, Denmark
Lonna Sauna OOPEAA MFA / Helsinki, Finland
Ilabekken, recreational area along river / Ila, Trondheim, Norway
The Greenest Block of Flats / Helsinki, Finland