The Gardens of Korea

Sejong is a new administrative city to open in 2012 in South Korea.  The Prime Minster's office and half of the national government will be relocated to this new city of 500,000 to be built in a rural area two hours south of Seoul.  The city will include a series of urban villages clustered around a large park, twice the size of New York City's Central Park. An International Design Competition for this central park land was held in 2007.

The Garden of Korea
The new Garden of Korea is the pulsating heart of the MAC - and this concept seeks to also trigger processes that transcend the physical boundaries of the site. The Garden is nestled within a ring of mountains - it epitomises the transformation, the sustainable development the wider MAC can bring. This connected landscape embraces the entire region of hills, new towns and waterscapes - and as its core, as the MAC’s central park, is proposed the tripartite, triune world of Fields, Forest and River. The complex yet simple riverine parklands offer a journey voyage within - an ecological voyage from the great eco-polis of the PAT, across the cultural ecology of the Fields at its northern periphery, through larger riverside Forest settings of bamboo, gingko and wetland trees through water-loving bush land, open heath, meadows, lotus ponds.

The Garden is not a park. It is a living, growing process of cultural innovation and ecological regeneration. The main charter of the Garden of Korea Foundation is to be the steward to the Garden’s perennial becoming. The open space is a natural rebuilding site - it has the entire region at its periphery - the region is ‘the park’, with the Garden anchoring it. Its basic structure is clear: more urban and active at the northern perimeter - transitioning to wilder grounds as we approach the River. Pastoral, paradisiac and paradigmatic of ancient, untouched lands - an open semi-wild but accessible refuge for Korean flora - and its indigenous fauna, terrestrial, aquatic and airborne.

How will the Garden grow? We suggest that it best emerge as both a natural and cultural artefact - evolving according to a framework of principles - with this initial vision of a background of enduring design principles, and a foreground of more ephemeral activities, features and installations.

Its fundamental land and marsh forms will evolve along the great water cleansing, filtration and treatment worlds that are the basic raison d’être of much of the green and blue systems - not as a closed wetland, but as a carefully managed and guided park.

Location: South Korea

Landscape Architects: Terragram and Umbaco Landscape Architects
Architects: Chris Elliott Architects
Urban Design and Masterplanning: Epolis Urban Design (Prof. Peter Droege)
Client: Multi-functional Administrative City Construction Agency; Korea Land Corporation

Year: 2007