Seoul Loop by Kim Min Jae Architects

Seoul Loop

Based on a recent study of carbon footprints of 13000 cities published by Institute of Physics (ICP), Seoul has got the first place. After the Korean War, South Korea achieved rapid growth in a short period of time from the least developed country to the ranks of advanced countries.

And the capital city, Seoul, is experiencing overpopulation and an absolute lack of green space for rapid industrial development. According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s survey, the category that accounted for the largest proportion of carbon emissions was emissions from buildings concentrated in Seoul, which was development thoughtless for the environment.

Artificial photosynthesis as a solution
As a way to solve these problems in Seoul, I would like to suggest a method to increase the area where photosynthesis can occur throughout the city. Plant photosynthesis naturally absorbs carbon dioxide from the city center and creates a virtuous cycle that exhales fresh oxygen.

However, the space that can be filled with plants on the land in the city center already filled with buildings is realistically limited. Therefore, the solution can be to secure an area for artificial photosynthesis and to build a space for growing plants above the existing urban structure.

Artificial photosynthesis is a chemical process that biomimics the natural process of photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. In comparison with natural photosynthesis, artificial processes produce oxygen, high-value compounds, and hydrogen. Thus, oxygen can be supplied directly to the city and the rest of the products can be stored as added value.

Building layout concept
In order to maximize the possible area and impact of artificial photosynthesis without harming the existing urban structure, a loop-type building rather than a vertical tower or horizontally long building was planned and a structure floating on the city was devised. Artificial photosynthesis facilities are placed on the roof of the building, and the generated oxygen is designed to be discharged on the elevation.

Site selection
One of development area thoughtless for the environment, Huam-Dong area was chosen as the site where have this experiment. This is a place where low-rise buildings are highly concentrated and there is an absolute lack of green space. Therefore, it is a suitable place to design an artificial photosynthetic area above the city without harming the existing urban structure.

Section Concept
Basically, the mass timber structure was applied to the entire building structure. It is an environmentally friendly substitute for carbon-intensive materials and building structure system. And the roof is made up of artificial photosynthetic equipment and photosynthetic panels.

Oxygen, hydrogen, and high-value compounds generated here are collected and stored in a storage container at the edge of the roof, and only oxygen moves to a pipe inside the facade and is released to the city outside. Inside the building, a vase for growing plants and small buildings are arranged, allowing natural photosynthesis as well as cultivation, sale, and storage of green plants.

Plan Concept
In order to manage the plan system more efficiently, a modular system with the same width and various lengths in the plant cultivation area was designed. These small buildings hold several programs, including a grocery store, information kiosk, F&B, building facilities, core, crop storage, and crop sales office. Source by Kim Min Jae Architects.