DISTURBED NATURE (a metropolitan garden)

  • Competion
  • Chungcheongnam
  • KR
  • 2005

Disturbed Nature refers to the traditional Korean art of garden making. Nature, in the Korean mind, is considered to be “a perfect and absolute entity that regenerates and sustains life” and therefore “adding man-made elements to (this) purest of spaces is considered a violation and something to be approached with the utmost care and reservation”. These quotes taken from korea.net, the official digital “Gateway to Korea”, concern the usually small-scale Korean garden. What if we relate them to the demand for planning a New Multi-functional Administrative City of 500.000 inhabitants on what appears to be a relatively pristine site of Korean soil?

Disturbed Nature doesn’t intend to plan just another new, exciting and big city. Instead the project proposes a concept for the delicate development of a metropolitan region that carefully considers and defines existing qualities, quantities and possibilities, both natural and man-made. It intends to combine the existing cities of Deajeon, Gongju, Cheongju and the area of Osong station into one New Multi-functional Administrative Metropolitan Region (NMAMR) that could easily fulfil all programmatic requirements of today (as stated in the competition brief), while offering much more space and many more opportunities for tomorrow (recognizing the fact that the major urban quality of a site or region is basically defined by its unfinished condition). Simultaneously the project intends to explore and preserve, or even enhance the existing natural landscape in the area, and turn this landscape into a dominant and inextricable spatial and programmatical entity within the new metropolitan region.

In doing so, Disturbed Nature especially intends to address issues of individual and collective space in all their possible shades; one of the major concerns of urbanism today (but probably of all times). The NMAMR, or at least the area addressed by the competition, will be composed of clearly defined, self contained, but mutually connected cities, quarters, neighbourhoods and private lots. The project intensively explores the Korean tradition of garden making both in order to generate both a strategic division of the property of land, and a very specific, appealing and lasting image for this new metropolitan region within a globalized world.

1. The existing cities of Deajeon, Gongju, Cheongju and the area of Osong are mutually connected by a system of highways. New highways are smoothly fit into the existing road system and landscape. Together they establish the infrastructural network that defines the basis of the New Multi-functional Administrative Metropolitan Region (NMAMR). In between the existing cities new highways encircle the competition site, creating a large sort of roundabout. Here all directions and destinations meet, spatially and symbolically defining the (as yet) empty heart of the new metropolitan region.

2. All new highways are carefully laid out and beautifully landscaped, specifically conforming to the structure and characteristics of the existing landscape. They are not merely connecting, but in the best tradition of highway making they are intended to provide a specific experience of speed, beauty and relaxation, while driving from a to b.

3. A new regional transport system is introduced, mutually connecting the existing cities, while touching the periphery of the competition site on three spots. It’s fast, high frequent and doesn’t provide too many stops. It intersects with and interrelates different existing local modes of transportation into one large metropolitan network of collective transportation.

4. The new regional transport system will be carefully laid out and beautifully landscaped; explicitly not conforming to the course of the highways, but probably sometimes touching it, finding its own tracks through the existing landscape. It provides a specifically different, but equally attractive view and experience of the new metropolitan region while travelling from a to b. And apart from being a highly efficient metropolitan device, it will become a recreational attraction on its own. It will gently and untouchable glide above the ground and its image and physical appearance will represent the spatial and programmatical unity of the NMAMR.

5. Inside the new ring of highways a local tramway encircles the competition site. It opens up the site collectively, while spatially dividing the empty heart of the metropolitan region in an inner and an outer ring. The tram runs in connection with the new collective regional transport system and stops at each existing secondary road that crosses its tracks.

6. The local tramway will be modest, friendly and convenient in its use and appearance. It will be close to man and bound to the ground, as opposed to the untouchable and distant image of the regional transport system.

7. All secondary roads that pass both independent rings of highway and tram will be cut off and partly demolished somewhere on the site, creating no through roads. So, the empty heart of the metropolitan region will remain empty: it will not be redeveloped in the usual sense of late-capitalism. All existing economical activity will gradually disappear. Here, at the infrastructural centre of the new metropolis, nature takes control, creating what will probably become one of world’s largest metropolitan parks, accessible for each and everyone, both man and animal.

8. Each no through road establishes a self-contained spatial and programmatical entity. Each road defines a specific collective neighbourhood within the metropolitan region, closely attached to the new metropolitan park, each with its own exit on the highway and its own tram stop.

9. All infrastructure schematically drawn in one view and projected on the map of the existing site for the future NMAMR.

10. All infrastructure drawn in one view as it will be in real; autonomous, but adjusted to the site and conformed to its existing, both natural and manmade qualities.

11. Different areas within the existing cities of Deajeon, Gongju, Cheongju and the area of Osong will be designated for urban (re)development, each area according to its specific spatial and programmatical qualities or needs and to its new position within the metropolitan area. Different components of the functional program for the New Multi-functional Administrative City will be rationally and strategically distributed over the whole region, considering existing qualities. The process of distribution of new program will be subjected to intense political scrutiny and deliberation and should be organized as such, involving all citizens of the designated cities and areas and turning the conception of the NMAMR into a truly collective event. As drawn the different areas represent a total of approximately 20 million m2 of grounds designated for urban (re)development.

12. New urban (re)developments in or attached to existing cities will conform to the existing urban structure, landscape, infrastructure and the rules of Feng-Shui in lay-out, scale and typology. The project considers historical continuity as a major ingredient in the transformation of the spatial and built environment.

13. While the area within the course of the new tramway is preserved for the metropolitan park, the outer ring of the competition site, the area between the boundary of the site and the tramway is designated for a certain amount of modest urban (re-)development around the existing secondary roads. Each road is developed into a self-contained and recognizable spatial and programmatical entity; a clearly distinguished, specifically defined neighbourhood within the metropolitan area, attached to the huge metropolitan park. As drawn the different neighbourhoods represent a total of approximately 4 million m2 of grounds designated for urban (re-)development.

14. The density and typology of each of these different collective neighbourhoods corresponds to that of a small, provincial town. Its appearance refers to the image and spatial structure of a traditional suburb; the small existing town that was swallowed by the metropolis. Each neighbourhood is expected to develop a specific community of inhabitants that is organized collectively, formally representing its specific identity within the metropolitan region.

15. Each neighbourhood has its own separate exit on the highway: its architectural interface with the metropolitan region. Each exit is circular shaped and provides for a lot of parking space and a considerable amount of mixed program, whether it is a stadium, a shopping mall, an administrative building, or anything else.

16. The identical basic typology of each exit spatially and programmatically connects the different neighbourhoods and represents the metropolitan unity, while their widely divergent architectural appearances and programmatical identity represents the unique and specific character of each single neighbourhood.

17. Inside the metropolitan park small-scale individual lots are divided among single families that live within the metropolitan region in order to fulfil a certain need for private recreation. Each individual lot is explicitly designated to the Korean art of garden making. Each lot is shaped perfectly round, representing each garden as an individual and personal centre of the world within the huge metropolitan region.

18. The essential idea of the Korean garden is “to make it look more natural than nature itself”. So after a while all these gardens, randomly distributed but neatly fitted into the structure of the existing landscape, will individually contribute to the growth and development of the collective metropolitan park: appearing like little raindrops on the leafs of a flower, magnifying nature.

19. The new metropolitan park will become really metropolitan in its complex division of both private and collective landownership. Strategic acquisitions of large grounds won’t be possible, everywhere are tiny bits of land that officially belong to someone else. So, if in the future, the need occurs to redevelop the metropolitan park, as never can be excluded, this will take an enormous collective effort.

20. Finally, it will be allowed to every family to built one simple house on each single lot. The design and materialization of each house will be strictly restricted to authentic and traditional Korean architecture, turning the new metropolitan park into a major tourist attraction: a xxl open-air museum. Houses won’t be permanently inhibited, their use is aimed at leisure and their use will circulate through the year within the family. It will be allowed to bury deceased relatives on the site near the family house.

21. So, if everything turns out right, the formerly empty heart of the New Multi-functional Administrative Metropolitan Region (NMAMR) will be filled with flowers and traditional houses. And, as many flowers will bloom, its flowering image will reveal the concept of Disturbed Nature on the map of Korea; representing the collective effort of the people of Korea to turn urbanism a little bit inside-out and create a metropolis out of a modest and beautiful Korean garden.