As cities across the globe face the challenge of building more affordable housing, Dutch design firm van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners has created a new 'tower block hybrid' approach in Seoul
A common problem facing the governments of major cities, wherever they are in the world, is that of public housing: where to locate it, what does it need in terms of urban planning, infrastructure, amenities and facilities, and so on. Seoul, the ever expanding capital city of South Korea, is no different, having been seeking solutions to develop big housing estate projects in recent years.
Launched by the Korea Land and Housing Corporation (KLHC) in 2010, the task of developing a housing complex of 180,000 sq-m was awarded to Dutch design firm van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners, previously known as De Architekten Cie. They set out to create an urban masterplan in Seoul's Gangnam district, and were also placed in charge of overseeing the landscape design.
Led by Frits van Dongen, the design team took just five months to complete 1,500 apartments, 1,600 parking spaces and a community centre. One of the client's hopes for the project was that it would provide affordable public housing for low-income families, and showcase a new public housing prototype in the country.
So, before construction began, the design team conducted thorough research of the topography of the site. Located adjacent to green hills, the apartment blocks were built at different heights in line with the hills behind them, in order to avoid visual disharmony and an awkward skyline. This layout, called 'tower block hybrids', is not commonly seen in Seoul's property market.
Within these blocks, the apartments have been designed to be suited to all incomes, lifestyles and family sizes, with differing layouts and sizes. Each has views over the internal landscaping as well as the nearby hills.
Additionally, the new urban planning scene devised by van Dongen-Koschuch Architects and Planners ensures that residents enjoy public roads and private inner courtyards, aimed at enhancing social interaction. Public and private outdoor spaces have a clear distinction between them, but each individual block has its own courtyard that serves as communal space with sports facilities, playgrounds and gardens.
This is an excerpt from the "A Self-sufficient Town” article from the December 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.
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