Between Park and Plaza: Geumcheon Folly Park
written by Woo Hyunjung | photographed by Kyungsub Shin (unless otherwise indicated)
materials provided by Urban Intensity Architects
In late November of 2016, two newly prepared parks near Geumcheon-gu Office opened to the public. In the 1151 Doksan 1-dong area, an army camp was stationed for more than 50 years, but now a commercial and business complex alongside new urban infrastructure have been introduced to the site of 191,689㎡ following the announcement of the plan in 2006 and the relocation of the army camp to Icheon, Gyeonggi-do in 2010. Roads, parks, cultural and sports facilities have been created from 29.9% of the Contributed Acceptance. Geumnarae Central Park and Doha Park are among the results of this programme. The parks can be differentiated from the other existing parks as they have been constructed through land donation from the very beginning. In this report, we will glimpse a future vision for a park that is rigorous and well-planned, right from the earliest stages of initial idea sketches.
Idea Sketch for Concepts:
The Architect Planning the Parks
Wee Jinbok (principal, Urban Intensity Architects), who directed the design of the Geumnarae Central Park and Doha Park, named those as the Geumcheon Folly Park. An attempt has been made here to extend the idea of a folly, which means a building constructed primarily for decoration, as well as to construct the overall identity of the parks by landscaping that discriminates against the existing parks. Therefore, what could be said to be lacking in the parks we have been visited thus far? Planning. Most of the parks have been built with Contributed Acceptance through a simple programme and with standardized facilities that do not emit any specific impression.▼1 This could be becaused they were devised out of context, barely applying user’s demands and do not interact with their surroundings. Of course, there are more deeply entwined problems to do with the basement levels of standardized parks and their development process, such as economic interests and administrative efficiency. Failures are experienced when poor planning results in not knowing what to do first coexists with abiding by customs that have not been properly interrogated.
An architect who plans parks: the reason these words are unfamiliar for us is due to a lack of precedent. According to statistics noted by the National Statistics Office in 2015, there are 21,716 parks in South Korea, including 5,034 neighborhood parks, 4,318 pocket parks, 74 urban nature parks, and 10,864 children’s parks, covering a total area of 934,242,136㎡. It is 1.54 times bigger than Seoul city, and, as such, the ratio of green tracts to parks is not low. There is no difference in the facilities of programmespecialized parks, such as the Gyeongui Line Forest, the Seoul Forest and Hangang Park. Geumcheon Folly Park, which achieves a spatial unity through its signage, everything from the design of the facilities to the landscaping was under the direction of an architect. It began with a question: what is the function of the park today? Wee quotes Rem Koolhaass that park requires flexibility that can constantly changes and adjust, therefore, park should be able to adapt to new social trends and users. This means the park should not be designed for specific programme only but it should rather be an open space with full of potential that can turn into any space completely depend on users. Then, how about Geumcheon Folly Park?
Yoonchul Cho, Leaf Trellis
Drawing Bigger Picture through Landscaping:
In late December, when I visited Geumcheon Folly Park, I observed people across the park taking short and quickened steps. It is a change that has resulted in an increasing floating population, the result of 1743 families moving into the apartment complex in November last year. The architect intended in his designs for one of park’s roles to be a shortcut to the subway station, taking into account the multiple apartment complexes that will be completed in the area by 2019. Thus, Geumnarae Central Park is divided diagonally: a community centre (Sharing Kitchen) and a maintenance office (toilet and feeding room) are on the left side, and the right side has been left empty as a plaza that will soon feature the new yet-to-beconstructed Seo-Seoul Museum of Art. The architect connected the community centre (West) and convenient facilities (North), which are at opposite ends, with a lawn plaza in the middle of the park, so the land has taken on the shape of a wave. Moreover, by creating a continuous landform without revealing the two buildings sunk beneath the hills, he eliminated the difference between the park and its facilities, and created a space where children can play and slide down the hills. The architect suggested that ‘the characteristics of space are determined by action occurring in the space’, and as such seems to stand at some point between a park and plaza. The park, open in all directions, will not only fulfill its primary role in helping the easy circulation of people emerging from their apartments, the Geumcheon-gu Office, the Anyangcheon Stream, the local elementary school and subway station, but has also become a place for events in the freedom of its occupation and use. Sharing Kitchen, in front of the district office, is a space with accordion doors that can situationally open three sides and expose attached kitchen in a row. This is the closest place to the fountain situated in the front yard of the district office, where children and their parents play in the water in the summer. It will be a place to prepare family picnics, to hold local flea markets, and perhaps on occasion for relaxation and festivals. The architect answers the question of why he planned a kitchen with the answer that food helps people to communicate with each other. Where there is food, there are people. It is quite Korean to come up with the notion that the flavour of food is a stronger draw naturally gathering people to the park, rather than the presentation of issues or events.
Lee Chihoon, ssingssingssing
Colouring the Picture of a Folly:
Place for Discourse to Visualize Problems
There are nine works in the Park which correspond to the notion of the ‘Folly’. The original meaning of a folly excludes functionality, but this project adopted it as a part of the park’s facilities to increase user convenience. Those works are made only using iron and steel to maintain their visual unity, and will vary activities in the park with benches, bikeports, and pagodas, etc. Nine artists, including architects, landscape architects, and designers: Hyoung-gul Kook, Kim Hongsung, Yang Soo-in, Lee Jieun, Lee Chihoon, Wee Jinbok, Yoonchul Cho, Chun Eui-Young, and Hahm Soomeen. They are all experienced in public sculpture. The director suggested keywords could be related park respectively. The keywords for the Windshield Bike Rack of Yang Soo-in (principal, Lifethings) are ‘exquisiteness’ and ‘recycling’. The work encourages a better acquaintance with the environment by recycling part of a vehicle, a typical means of transportation in the industrial era. Yang noticed that motor companies mass produce vehicle windshields in advance of discontinuing of a model, stockpiling them for repair and replacement. He collected the windshields of the Sonata II, which has been discontinued and is therefore no longer in demand, employing them in the roof of bikeport and a smoothly connected frame using a bending machine with CNC (Computer Numerical Control). This bikeport is quite strange as it only stores twelve bicycles, compared to the existing bike racks that were designed to take as many as possible. The core intention of this work is that it allowed us to measure the value of bicycles as an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation when considered alongside automobiles. ssingssingssing of Lee Chihoon (co-principal, Society of Architecture) is in the middle of Doha Park and across the street. This playground and sculpture coated with a brass yellow colour makes us question their appearance. Shim Youngkyu (producer, Project Day), who managed this project with director Wee, said it is also the most controversial among the works. In those two definitions, a playground and a sculpture, there is an irreconcilable gap between art and administration. A doubleended slide that has no definite entrance nor exit stimulates children’s curiosity, but according to the ‘Equipment and Technical Standard for Children’s Playing Facilities’ (the Ministry of Public Safety and Security notification no. 2015 – 1, 6 Jan. 2015), was amended on 24 December 2015, it is only considered a dangerous facility as it cannot be accepted as playing facility. For example, it acts against the recommendations of the article that there should be ‘neither puddle nor mound at the arrival point’. There was a widespread dispute over the removal of the work. Finally, the team defines the site’s identity not as playground but as a sculpture. It left something wanting. In June 2016, the first playground of the miracle ‘Eongttungbalttung’ at Hoban 3 Park in Yeonhyang 2 district, Suncheon, was created through the employ of the natural slope, small stream and clay piping. Furthermore, 3000㎡ of playground created by Phyen Haemoon, the author of A Risky Playground is Safer, with children and administrative professionals, suggests that there is such a thing as a ‘healthy risk’. Can ssingssingssing be a risky playground, like ‘Eongttungbalttung’, which experiments with this possibility? We can dream changes just by a fact we are facing the matter squarely.
Future Vision Plaza:
A Platform Full of Vitality
According to Wee, Geumcheon Folly Park is the first example in which an architect has been involved in a park development from the stages of planning to the facility design in Korea. He pointed to the vision of the leader, the head of Geumcheon-gu Office, who operates the two parks, as the greatest force in making the project possible. The request made by Cha Sung-su (head, Geumcheon-gu Office) only totalled one: creating a place where people can gather. He argued that ‘a city needs clear spaces. A space not affected by a certain authority makes possible open communication. This project was an essential programme because there was no plaza existing in the district in which more than 1,000 people could assemble’. Cha added ‘it was not easy to let an architect direct the whole project in the park’s development, especially as landscaping takes a part of it. However, maintaining the respective identities of the parks was the most crucial issue, and the collaboration among different professional practice and the unique permissions of each part was the most instrumental task faced’. The project has not ended by creating parks, as the more important thing was to get people together, to create diverse relationships, and to extend its impact with art. Geumcheon Folly Park, which serves as both a park and plaza, deserves to be an example that will stand at a new starting point while compensating for the defects of public facilities created in administrative views.
Lee Jieun, Geumcheon Ring
Yang Soo-in, Windshield Bike Rack
The park will not only fulfill its primary role in helping the easy circulation of people but has also become a place for events in the freedom of its occupation and use.
1. Contributed Acceptance means the acceptance of a competent administrative agency, typically from the State or local government, of a property donated by a private individual or part, which could include a company. A private person or a company usually receives incentives, such as a rise in the allowed floor area ratio and or a lenience in the permitted altitude. Seoul Metropolitan Government has increased the range of Contributed Acceptance not only when dealing with roads and parks, but with regards to public facilities that fulfill local demands by adopting the ‘Integral Administration System for Contributed Acceptance Public Facilities’ since 27 August 2015.