Reimagining a dilapidated one-kilometre long mall running through the heart of Seoul in Korea meant reconnecting with ideas of the past, exploring new ideas and at times turning traditional ideas upside down.
The Seunsangga Complex was built in the late 1960s on a World War Two fire break that divided an intricate network of traditional alleys. It thrived until the 1980s when competition from other emerging districts sent it into decline.
In 2015 the City of Seoul called for ideas to regenerate the Complex and an international team from HASSEL came together to generate a highly imaginative concept in response.
From east to west the design concept re-establishes lost connections through the site and into the surrounding network of streets via 17 individually crafted stairs. Each stair is distinctive to provide landmarks along the length of the Complex but connected by the use of consistent materials.
From north to south the design creates a continuous, connected experience along a vast unbroken deck, and adjacent to this at ground level, a singular, beautifully sparse space is proposed, punctuated by the occasional lone pine.
Under the deck is a gloriously colourful hidden garden that hangs from the roof to create an unexpected sensory experience. It blurs the boundary of what’s real and virtual by combining hanging plants with ever-changing projections.
"We wanted to create an overall experience that balanced vast serene spaces inspired by traditional Korean gardens with a very unexpected, upside down, inside rather than outside, experience of a garden,” explains HASSELL Principal Jon Hazelwood.
The concept builds on the successes of the site’s past as a hub for a collection of innovative small-scale enterprises to flourish. It creates a renewed buzz within a more cohesive overall precinct.
It harnesses new ideas for what a shopping complex can be – one where the makers, testers, designers and sellers are ‘on show’ together and interacting with each other and their customers.
And it suggests ways to use brand new technologies – for example to harvest kinetic energy generated by pedestrian footfall and turn it into electricity.
Project: Seunsangga Citywalk Design Competition Location: Seoul, Korea Client: City of Seoul Scale: 1 km Year: 2015 Status: Open competition/unrealised Imagery by HASSELL