NEW GWANGHWAMUN SQUARE
FINALIST PROJECT - HONORABLE MENTION
While reading the Guidelines and anlyzing the project site, it appears immediately clear that the two huge streets crossing through the project area, were acting as barriers for the pedestrian connection of the site, leading to a profund LACK OF PERMEABILITY. Secondly , as the Guidelines suggest for a comparison between the traditional european forum and the Asian boulevard, we identified several similarities with the PECULIAR GEOMETRY of European Squares, mainly composed by a pedestrian or vehicular axis leading a square, set right in front of the representative Monument. As for via della Conciliazione in Rome that reaches Piazza del Colonnato, and S. Peter’s Church. Furthermore, being the spatial extension of the entire society and the City itself, the Square has always been chaging right following every important historical and social events. Gwanghwamun Square carries a very profund hystorical heritage, that now is unfortunately not represented, leading to a profund LOSS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE.
BUT HOW IT WOULD BE POSSIBLE TO INTERVENE IN A PLACE WITH ALL THESE CHARACTERISTICS? And how can we turn these weaknesses (The LACK OF PERMEABILITY, the PECULIAR GEOMETRY, the LOSS OF SYMBOLIC VALUE) into strenghts? Our answer is a a NEW CONCEPTION OF THAT SPACE, that need to become A SYMBOL OF EVERYONE and at the same time A PLACE FOR EVERYONE. Gwanghwamun will be a place able to REPRESENT and WELCOME all the COMMUNITY of Seoul, for this reason we named it CO-SQUARE.
This led to the design of a MONUMENT-SQUARE, with a very profund symbolic value, rather than precise urban connotations. The first characteristic is the complete IMMERSIVE FRUITION of the space, and in particular of the Monument itself, that led to an ACTIVE PERCEPTION OF THE SURROUNDING, leading to a profund connection between the urban landmark and all the users. As for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, by architect Peter Eisenmann, that well represents the idea of coincindence between the Square and the Monument, in this case, made of more than 2.700 concrete elements.
All the visitors can physically walk into the Monument and be closer to what it represents, LIVING THE INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE OF A COLLECTIVE MEMORY. The second one, is the SPATIAL ARTICULATION of the Square, that is not only an empty urban place, but rise to be HIGHLY SYMBOLICAL. The space is very configurable, conceived as flexible, in order to respond to the visitors and users needs, empowering the attractivity of the space. The Square acts as a symbol of union among people, providing an heterogeneous programme of activities able to satisfy different needs. Here residents, visitors and workers can meet and socialize, just rest or cross through. The main aim is to combine the hystorical heritage to hand down and the social value it needs to represent, providing a new CO(LLECTIVE) SQUARE that acts as the SPATIAL REPRESENTATION OF THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY.
The project moves from 3 DESIGN MAIN ACTIONS:
– DIG the area, to reach city connection and PERMEABILITY, to solve the issue of streets disrupting the pedestrian crossing.
– INSERT of heterogeneous ACTIVITIES, to make the area more attractive
– COVER the underground square with the Monument.
This is composed by 25 elements representing the 25 districts of Seoul. As different single people form a community, in the same way the 25 pieces create a unique monument, reminding to a new sense of democracy, cohabitation and social equality.
The main aim of the design process was that to HIGHLIGHT THE COLLECTIVE DIMENSION OF THE PUBLIC SPACE, proposing not only new urban square where to meet and socialize, but a place that would have been able to ATTRACT PEOPLE EASING THE PROCESS OF MEETING AND SHARING.
The project consists in a DOUBLE LEVELS PUBLIC SPACE, with a COVER SQUARE (THE MONUMENT) that embodies the HYSTORICAL MEMORY and the SOCIAL VALUES of the citizens, and an UNDERGROUND SQUARE (THE ACTIVITIES), OFFERING ATTRACTIVE FUNCTIONS for residents and visitors. The MONUMENT is a place where people can meet or simply cross through. It is a SPACE WITH A COLLECTIVE AIM, that represents the union among citizens, and that, for this reason, offers a huge empty space that people can freerly use, where they can affirm their dues together, during demonstrations and public events. The UNDERGROUND SQUARE, collects heterogeneous activities for the City and for the neighborhood, not only ENFORCING THE URBAN ATTRACTIVITY of the square, but also RESTORING ITS LOCAL DIMENSION. Multiple flexible areas are provided in order to let people to freerly use them, restoring a profund sense of belonging between the human beings and the public space.
So, in conclusion, Gwanghwamun square is not a simple square, but a monument square composed by two different elements, where is possible to meet and socialize in the public areas to demonstrate for the citizens rights to enjoy all the common activities or simply to cross through! It is a new public space of the korean community
Collaborators: Erika Braun, Seung Eun Lee, Roberta Menaguale, Yamil Alejandro Ini.