Olson Kundig creates an active play area and lush garden on top of a 12-storey department store in the city of Uijeongbu, South Korea
Like many of Seoul's satellite cities, Uijeongbu can best be described as a concrete landscape with very little infrastructure devoted to culture, parks, and recreation. On the rooftop of Shinsegae's 12-storey department store, the Secret Garden's sea of sculptures, set against a backdrop of lush greenery and designed by Olson Kundig together with Korean artist Do-Ho Suh, serves as a much needed oasis for the residents of the area.
Some of the garden's content was inspired by traditional Korean tapestries depicting a magical garden that contains several traditional symbols of longevity such as cranes, deer, mist, water, and pine trees. These elements, along with the inclusion of regional plants, were the direct result of extensive research into the local culture and site conditions.
A blueprint for city rooftop development, it serves as a welcome green haven in a city that has very few parks. Aside from the visual appeal of the garden, which includes a dramatic totem pole by Suh, a tree house, bird's nest and an elephant fountain, the project has an educational purpose. "We used the project to educate residents about their region and sustainability. The landscaping only uses Korean plants, and we invited Korean student artists to create animals from local, found materials," says Alan Maskin, the Olson Kundig partner who headed the project.
This is an excerpt from the "Wandering into the Secret Garden” article from the September 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.
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