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TEXT ON THE CITY OF A THOUSAND CITIES-SOUTH KOREA CONFERENCE IN ROME

 

At the end of the year 2005 an international competition was summoned for the construction of the New Capital of South Korea that, due to constitutional issues, was called The New Multifunctional and Administrative City for 500,000 Inhabitants.

            Its situation breaks the bipolarity between Seoul and Busan.

            The selected location is the Yeongui-gu region, upon the Geum river-bed.

            The place is a sedimentation valley. Today being a rice field, exploitated by farming communities inhabiting the hills edges on villages protected from northwest winter winds.

            This work was raised from new pronouncements about the human being environment, on the construction of a new paradigm that will shape an architectural and urban project committed to sustainability.

            This paradigm goes beyond the bioclimatic framework according to how we understand that energy efficiency requirements are necessary, but not sufficient to address the broad parameters of a new ecological ethic, in transversal interaction with different specialties.

            This proposal arises from the design or projection debate, being a different type of debate because of its multidisciplinary complexity and the time on the project when it occurs in relation to the theoretical-critical debate.

These are, therefore, considerations coming from the project of creative decisions, overlaying technical and scientific considerations.

First of all there is no cultural (historic nor social) sustainability in the "Tabula-rasa" decisions. This proposal maintains the existing populations and their production system as long as it’s useful and convenient.

Secondly, the natural environment and the urban environment rarely have coexisted harmoniously. This work state that such harmony is possible without resorting to stereotypes as the Garden City, where the urban gradient isn’t achieved nor the natural city is preserved.

Thirdly, the social space isn’t a representation place between public and private. Anthropologically speaking, the city of urban and architectural symbols, that understands the citizen as a passive consumer, is surpassed by the object-city or tool-city, where the citizens are meant to be active users.

Useful-tool kind of city is the frame work for a solidarity citizenship.

A tool-city where its users-citizens activity is expressed is a diverse and changing city.

It is also a city without power hierarchies, a city of equal opportunities.

Relationship with virginal nature and the one created by men’s work is direct and immediate in this proposal.

A lace of 25 cities with 20,000 inhabitants each, and different densities, joined by a structuring cord connected in at the empty spaces between units by institutional facilities (Town Hall, hospital, University buildings, etc., etc) giving a certain centrality for the 20,000 inhabitants scale.

The peripheral landscape is the contemporary landscape. The inherited or heritage cities, with a historic city center, an institutional centre, etc., aren’t models of our time anymore. The peripheral landscape is a matter to explore from creative design, as a figurative quality scenario full of complexities. Here we see how nature and contemporary architecture participate with rice fields and the workers villages. A landscape of great beauty thanks to its idyllic and desirable character.

The rice crops, Korean tradition, occupy 20 per cent of the country’s not mountainous surface, and shall be the natural parks of the next decade and their functional and environmental protection must be demanded now.

The sustainable city is not an instantaneous reality, is the result of a transgenerational process. It is essential to understand the planning not as a contract between different rights but as a genetic code that emerges from the physical and sociological context. To contextualize the design work within the changing reality replaces the cabinet urban planner for the alternative architect-urban planner.

Promoter politicians should also mutate to the political field roll. The politician immersed in the city that’s being built, abandoning the city under construction concept and inauguration culture for the launch culture.

The sustainable city can be described as a progress, from the Down Town 19th century model evolving through the diffuse city until the 21st century city. City in which the energetic and resources process reaches a high degree of local entropy, through sophisticated overlapping processes as management of materials and other procedures.

The sustainable city from the bioclimatic requirements needs a supportive and cooperative citizenship.

The sustainable city is a compact and complex city. The “complex” term used for the systems (meshes, etc.) overlapping. The “compact” term understood as a functional and spatial intensity as the efficiency in mobility.

A system of meshes diluted in urban space over a non-hierarchical but equipotential organization. A structuring cord homogeneously hung as an energetic lake in balance with itself. Organized capillary meshes, systems diluted in each surface.

Nature, as the farmers’ villages, is radically preserved.
Spaces for overlapping aren’t specialized places, but generators of unforeseen activities where citizen communication takes place, natural and spontaneous.

Here, the urban landscape is not a space for dialectics between the public and private, even a space for the institutional and civic representation. It is the framework for the natural and the artificial perception and the framework for social rituals where what is desired may be possible.

Following the direction of the proposal’s structuring corridor-cord, the scene is hyper-urban. The perspective is closed by the winding path of the cord and the smooth topography’s level change. It is an equivalent cosmopolitan scene to that of Times Square in New York or Ginza in Tokyo. A 90 ° turn shows the exterior virgin nature landscape or the cultivated valley within.

The complex and intense sustainable city is not a "zoning" city, is a multifunctional city permeable to different forms of human activity. An alternative to the "zoning" model are the meshes in space, function and built matter.

The Net sphere, which is built on information, communication, energy flows and processes and systems that technology has contemporarily reached, overlaps today with the Nature sphere and the Urban sphere. The sustainable city must integrate these three sheres, which are composed in our proposal by the farmer that remains, the new urbanitas and the contemporary tele-citizen, which could, desirably, be the same.

The Net Sphere’s design in the current city is not only possible but it’s necessary. We show a preview on the mapping of these information and communication layers as well as the interfaces within the three Spheres.

For us the citizens’ ritual space replaces the public-private representation space. In this proposal the accent is not on displaying plazas, urban perspectives, etc., but on the expression of social, individual or gregarious events, for which enable situations in the place and also in time.

Mobility is essential for the sustainable environment requirements. The pedestrian is the project’s main character. The city is dimensioned for an endless supply of pedestrian transits. The Valley can be crossed in one hour and a quarter, six hours for the central corridor. The outer nature is accessed from the hyper-urban axis in 10 minutes.

These measures are reduced to a third or fourth part if riding a bike.

A tram travels around the whole ring in 60 minutes, stopping at each of the 25 interstices. It is possible to cross the Valley in 10 to 20 minutes.

This mobility offer on the proposal was decisive for the project to be awarded, but above all so that the model was taken over for the Master Plan elaboration by the Korean Agency for the Multifunctional City Construction.

A sustainable urban environment must reach vehicle and pedestrian compatibility on a broad strip for their coexistence.

This is our proposal for the 20,000 inhabitants cities – 10,000 inhabitants (1/2 of the city) that allows local traffic and the citizen to intelligently negotiate their mobility without curbs, specific parking areas, etc.

Heavy or fast traffic will obviously have a specific design. Parking lots will consistently have different solutions, either in specialized situations (basements, underground levels, exclusive buildings or decks) or in a diffuse mode on the capillary mesh of each city.

The phased model construction was analyzed from these two options:

A. The complete corridor implementation and random construction of urban units.

B. The construction from an origin on the corridor and units.

            The Korean Agency chose option A.

The construction of a city should materialize the dreams and desires of each era. This proposal is intended as an open book to be written in unpredictable way by its citizens.

An international competition for the development of one of the 25 units, the PAT (Public Administrative Town), enabled us to advance in the research of the sustainable requirements from an architectural-urban project, developing in detail elements outlined in the initial contest.

The action unit scope is a place of high complexity with an important natural, built, sociological and infrastructures repertoire.

We afirm a sustainable design must reconcile the previous existences with the project and that the "tabula rasa" is hardly a sustainable decision.

We propose a design on tip toes over the environment so that, from the road connection with the rest of the Master Plan, a circulation ring solved the elevated traffic with the connection to the existing road traffic, ring from which you access all activities and architecture, whether pre-existing or newly built.

Underground operations (infrastructures, parking, etc.) are, from the sustainability criteria, either as or more untenable than the "tabula rasa" strategy. We propose a design "without underground", with the minimum impact of architecture and infrastructures on the ground.

Lightweight architecture, raised from the ground level, is designed to take all kinds of uses: residential, trade, equipment, car parks, energy. We show some samples on this repertoire, e.g. the integration of private car parks in the same residential buildings as the towers basement, or directly linked to each housing unit, or in separate buildings. (108) Parking robotization technology is highly effective in terms of surface, logistics and energy.

Contemporary sociology describes the 21st Century inhabitants as a human and nonhuman assembly. The relationship between citizens and their artifacts is no longer a one-way hierarchy relationship. Dependence is a reciprocal linking between both and defines a different physical environment, here and now explored by us.

The figuration of a lightweight architecture, versatile and recyclable, offers a fascinating research. From the known and conventional examples to those that vertically contain recreational activities (greenhouses, leisure centers, single-family houses in height, etc.).

This research confirms the interest and validity of the city as a harmonious coexistence space for the three Spheres or environments, and also the quality of a city that isn’t a symbol for representations neither for the public-private dialectics. In the tool-city, social rituals survive in a complex system which is validated, in this proposal, by urban phenomena of permanence of the vernacular interweave in the cosmopolitan according to a culture that we can define as genuinely Korean.

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