MVRDV has won a competition to redesign the Tancheon Valley and waterfront in Seoul with “The Weaves”, a design that knits together a tangle of pedestrian and bicycle paths, natural landscapes, and public amenities into an appealing, playful, symbolic landscape. Commissioned by the government of Seoul and planned for completion in 2024, the design introduces an intense combination of nature and human activity in the midst of the city.
Located between Seoul’s former Olympic Stadium in the Jamsil district and the rapidly growing central business district in Gangnam, the point where the Tancheon River joins the Han River is currently dominated by surface car parking and elevated highway structures. A kilometre-long stretch of the Tancheon River will be completely transformed by the design, as well as a significant stretch of waterfront along the Han River.
The central concept of “The Weaves” was to intertwine three aspects of the landscape: natural ecosystems, access for pedestrians, and elements of public program where activities can take place. The first step in this plan was to return the river to a more naturalistic state, replacing hard landscaping with lush green riverbanks, and changing the river from a straight canal to a meandering stream.
The design softens the banks of the river with carefully selected native vegetation, as well as water retention pools, islands, and purification streams that all contribute to a healthy waterfront ecosystem. The second part is the development of a network of winding interconnected paths that allow easy pedestrian access throughout the waterfront, creating opportunities for visitors to encounter the natural ecology in a variety of ways.
These paths are not only confined to floor level, though, often peeling away from the ground to cross over other paths, form a bridge over the water or roads, or connect to a pedestrian route at a higher level. This network incorporates existing infrastructure on the site: in response to the government’s plan to decommission and demolish sections of the site’s highways, MVRDV instead proposed to keep the structures and transform them.
This tangle of paths also introduces the third element of the design, the park’s public programme. The paths overlap and intersect, split and recombine, twist and turn, and rise and fall to create plazas, viewing points, amphitheatres, cafés, and other amenities. The result is a public park with a dramatic three-dimensional character. A highlight of The Weaves is the pedestrian bridge connecting the Gangnam district to the Olympic Park.
A bundle of paths rise up from the river below to form a crossing that incorporates a viewing platform, a small tribune, and a media floor. Other notable public functions incorporated into the path include the Event Dome, a group of raised crossing paths that form a viewing structure and a semi-covered event space underneath; the family playground, where the path frays into many lines that form climbing structures, benches, and animal figures.
Also includes the Seoul Water Path, a section of path that extends out over the water of the Han River to spell the word “Seoul” in a looping script. Of the existing structures preserved on the site, one highway ramp running along the western side of the Tancheon River will be transformed into a raised park and connected to the rest of the path network. Another section of highway crossing the mouth of the Tancheon River will be largely demolished, but a piece of it will be preserved to host a cycling hub. Source by MVRDV.
- Location: Jamsil, Seoul, South Korea
- Architect: MVRDV
- Partner in charge: Winy Maas
- Partner/Director: Wenchian Shi
- Design Team: Kyo Suk Lee, Shengjie Zhan, Dongmin Lee, Gabriele Piazzo, Michele Tavola
- Visualisations: Antonio Luca Coco, Luca Piattelli, Cinzia Bussola, Magda Bykowska
- Partners Co-Architect: NOW Architect (Seoul, South Korea)
- Landscape Architect: Seoahn Total Landscape Architecture
- Structural engineer: Saman Corporation and Hanmac Engineering Lighting Advisor: Huel Design
- Client: Seoul Metropolitan Government Size and Programme: 630,000 m2 Park and Infrastructure
- Year: 2019+
- Images: Atchain, MVRDV/Seoahn Total Landscape Architecture, Courtesy of MVRDV
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