UIA 2017 Seoul Post-human Urbanity Int’l Design Competition, Honorable Mention I 2017
UIA Seoul 2017 Post-Human Urbanity International Design Competition)
“Plotting New Outline for the Future
Prologue: Find the Possibilities (of Ridges)
At the dusk of their age (Anthropocene), humans start plotting a new outline of the city for the future age (Post-Human) to create a more biosynthetic urban framework also to transmit their memory to posterity.
Seoul, different from the conventional idea of the city – ‘concentric zone model’ on planar land, can be better understood by reading its verticality: series of mountains forming its overall structure (valleys and ridges) vertically-distributed ecosystem. Besides, mountains in Seoul store geological elements from more than millions of years ago (rocks and strata) while keeping numerous plants and animals. Ironically, in modern planning, this topographical aspect has been widely neglected. Consequently, regardless of the rapid change in the city’s layout in the modern age, mountains and their ridges have stood the same while reserving possibilities of restructuring the city and reconnecting humans with immense layers of time and species.
Given this, the proposal focuses on reading the site’s (Sowolro-20gil) character as a ridge space and finding its role and possibilities to form the new outline of the city’s biosynthetic future. It proposes restoring the site’s original form (as ridge space) by accumulating human and non-human elements on the site. The process would occur in a long time and would proceed not by artificial intervention but through nature’s circulation.
Strategy: Scale and Marker
As a strategy to restore the original form and function of the fragmented ridge on the site, we propose to use existing structures to thicken and re-connect the disintegrated line by accumulating human and non-human elements through time: 1) sediment occur from natural erosion and weathering (silt, sand, gravel, rock crust, etc.), 2) bodily waste of animals and pollen from plants, and 3) fragments of buildings and traces of temporal human activities (orchard tree, nursery, temporary structures, etc.). Those elements will be accumulated between existing structures and will thicken the ridgeline through time with mixed human and non-human activities and associated memories.
After a long time, accumulated elements (future presences), together with current and past presences (existing buildings and geological layers buried underneath) on the site, become a scale and marker representing human age history. Post-Human explorers visiting the site would encounter various biospecies and remnants of human activities collected in various pitches between walls. Also, accumulated elements would form a thick layer and become a geological marker of human age (Anthropocene).
In this proposal, walls and other structures of existing buildings on site are strategically eliminated after careful observation of the current condition. To better accumulate elements (coming from Nam Mountain by the force of gravity), elements located in a perpendicular direction from the street are selected to remain. The remaining elements are 1) solid walls with less fenestration between buildings on the perpendicular direction of streets, 2) retaining walls, and 3) footing columns.
Scenario: Gallery of Time and Presences
Repetition of the accumulation process would slowly transform the site from a mundane urban space to part of the mountain through the process of natural succession, and it creates a ‘Gallery of Time and Presences,’ which stores diverse human and non-human elements aligned on a line between walls with diverse intervals.
While walking along with the site, Post-Humans would perceive a sense of compression of time and space by looking at overlayed elements from the different time periods: outline of ridges on far-away mountains from Prehistoric remaining structures from Human Age, and biospecies from Human and Post-Human Age. Also, this space enables them to recognize the city’s overall structure and its ecosystem and get balanced awareness of ecological succession.
Space also enables animals to better navigate their travel path by recognizing the city’s overall framework and helping plants’ pollination by reducing intervals of pollen’s travel.
Epilogue: Outline for Future of Seoul
In the far-future, the strategy of restoring ridges to their original form is spread throughout the whole city and creates a new outline of the city’s image and operation. By this time, Seoul will have a dual framework operating in different levels: road system on lower areas (built-in Human Age) and connected ridges space at the higher level (to-be completed in Post-Human Age).
This dual-framework enables Post-Humans to live in an environment with different urbanity from the Human-age. Connected ridge lines exist neither as nature nor as part of the city. It operates as an intermediate space where 1) artifacts and memories of Human age is stored and still affecting Post-Human urbanity (Space and Marker), 2) frequent interaction between human and non-human entities occurs while allowing them to interact with their past and to observe the process of ecological succession (Gallery of Time and Presences), and 3) Post-Humans envision a balanced future of their species by constantly looking back remnants from their past.