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This floating forest concept offers an innovative answer to concrete jungles

A New York-based architectural design firm have proposed an innovative new way of integrating public green space in an urban context: by making it float.

Studio MMK entered their vision for a ‘floating forest’ in a competition to design a new public and cultural space in one of Seoul’s most historic streets. In their plans for the development, 23 pagoda trees appear to hover a little way above the traffic-filled streets below.

Speaking exclusively to CLAD, Studio MMK partner Jihoon Kim said: “We wanted to propose a different open space where people can sit down and relax in a calm and poetic environment. We wanted them to be able to rest under the trees, away from craziness of everyday life. That’s how we came up with the concept.

“Instead of proposing a high-tech, trendy, ‘iconic’ sculptural object out of context with the location – as you can find all too easily in architecture today – we wanted to suggest something which resembles the familiar while also being a little bit different.”

In the design, a ground platform is raised a few metres above street level in order to accommodate a thick base layer. This allows room for the trees to root without reducing the ceiling space in the underground level below. Studio MMK call this an “Integrated Structural Landscape System”.

In their plans for the Seoul cultural building, the architects designed an underground open space below the forest, sat in an existing basement. The structure’s concrete surface would be overlaid in parts by new brick. Kim said this would allow visitors to see and touch different layers of the building; engaging them with its past and present.

He told CLAD: “We think architecture is an accumulation of memories. While I’m not claiming that the every old building must be preserved intact, if we cannot avoid modifying a building then we must somehow respect the time and memories that it had.

“As Umberto Eco once said, ‘memories are built as a city is built. It could be said that architecture, from its beginnings, has been one of the ways of fixing memories.’”

A New York-based architectural design firm have proposed an innovative new way of integrating public green space in an urban context: by making it float. Studio MMK entered their vision for a ‘floating forest’ in a competition to design a new public and cultural space in one of Seoul’s most historic streets. In their plans for the development, 23 pagoda trees appear to hover a little way above the traffic-filled
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In the plans, 23 pagoda trees appear to hover a little way above the traffic-filled streets below / Studio MMK
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Company profile: Robert D. Henry Architects + Interiors
Robert D Henry Architects (RDH-Architects) was founded in 1990 in New York City by Bob Henry, known as the “sensuous architect of serenity.”
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