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In Pictures: Florian Beigel and ARU's Saemangeum Island City

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Images from the exhibition of Florian Beigel’s Architectural Research Unit proposal for Saemangeum, South Korea

The Saemangeum sea wall on the south-west coast of Korea is the longest in the world, encompassing a freshwater lake of more than 400 sq km.

The site of this urban landscape project encompasses approx 283km2 of nelwy reclaimed land and 118km2 of freshwater lake that will be constructed within the area enclosed by teh sea wall.

Below is a sequence of images from the proposal. The ARU is based at London Metroplitan University




1. Satellite image of the 34 km seawall enclosing a fresh water lake of approximately 400km2. The construction of the sea wall at Saemangeum is an achievement that is made by a strong civilisation. We think that the sea wall is like the Great Wall of China in the sea. The strong ambition of the sea wall sets a clear and high standard for building a civilized city.

2. A city with a sense of time: Geological time in this epic landscape is juxtaposed with a long history of land being reclaimed from the sea for agriculture. Rocks that were once surrounded by the sea are now wooded islands in the flat farmland. We think about these enigmatic islands as valuable time witnesses. We intend to make the old tidal seashores visible as edges to new water bodies.

3. View looking north from the start of the seawall. The water level of the new lake to the right is in the process of being lowered, April 2008.

4. Scale comparison: Saemangeum’s site boundary laid over a map of London at the same scale


5. Island Making: The process of land reclamation along the seawall, April 2008

6. The poetry of the artificial and the natural: Image Island, one of the main destinations for tourists and citizens, a picturesque image island at the heart of Saemangeum makes visible the beautiful process of building islands to visitors arriving by boat. The image island captures the architectural poetry of the artificial meeting the natural in the former estuary and makes one think about time

7. Island Experience: The long and narrow island design is an attempt of maintaining an island experience and to enhance the value of the land by increasing the length of lake frontage properties. We think it should be possible to walk from water edge to water edge across the short dimension of an island in approximately 20 to 40 minutes. One therefore always will have an awareness of the water in all parts of the new city.

8. Reading the lakebed topography: With more precise topographical maps and water depth data the size, location and shapes of the islands were re-assessed. In the interest of feasibility of reclamation, the islands have been located and shaped to take advantage of the lakebed topography.The design balances maximum water frontage (good land value), against the cost of building lake embankments.


9. Saemangeum Island City: FInal phase plan



10. Inhabiting the islands with a well-established urban language of ‘City Structures’: ‘City Structures’ from various international cities were selected and studied for their functional diversity and their adaptability to economic change. They are characterised by their strong public realm: Sketch of Barceloneta City Blocks used on the Promontory Island near Gimje.

11. Cambridge Quadrangle ‘City Structure’ is employed on Central Island.


12. Harbour City Magnet: a cluster of sea ports, lake harbours and marinas with dense city on both sides of the sea wall and panoramas of the Gogunsan Archipelago. A Threshold City, one of three dense financial/ entertainment districts at Saemangeum, connects the lake island to the Sea Wall City.


13. A city of co-existence: tourists holidaying in Saemangeum visit a tulip farm located in close proximity to the airport. The aim is an integrated city full of vitality and liveliness. We have tried to reduce the need for single functional zones in the city such as bed-towns, business parks or large self-contained tourist resorts. Diverse functions are sited in close proximity to each other, compatibility permitting.

14. Landscape and wetlands sit between the densely inhabited Central Island and Bridge Island within Jin- Bong Lagoon City.


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