Five Layers of a Nature-Based Korean City (Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Our work “Five Layers for a Nature-Based Korean City” will be exhibited as part of the Seoul 100-year Masterplan Exhibition, along with the winning proposals from other teams around the world.

Last year we submitted a proposal “Five Layers of a Nature-Based Korean City” for inclusion in the 4th Seoul Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism.

We are pleased to announce that our work will be exhibited in the Biennale, as part of the Seoul 100-year Masterplan Exhibition, alongside projects from around the world, each reacting to different urban issues and geographies.

The theme of the Biennale is to imagine what Seoul would be like in 100 years if it existed in harmonious relation with nature. The sentiment of the Biennale’s general director Byoung Soo Cho aligns well with the work we have been doing for the past decade.

Our proposal is based on an ongoing project called City Designed by Trees. The project imagines just what the title suggests, a city where trees are the planners. The concept began in 2018 as an essay at The Nature of Cities, and then another for Kyoto Journal the following year. Eventually it grew into a full-scale exhibition for the Daejeon Biennale in 2022.

Now, five years later, this idea of listening to nature in order to build a city is part of the most innovative and wide-ranging events on cities that we know of. Perhaps even rivaling the interdisciplinarity of The Nature of Cities Festival 😉

“… over the past 50 years, the city has continued to develop neither for its inhabitants nor for nature. Urban development aimed at short-term interests—such as to refine the exterior, to attract large number of tourists, or for the benefit of a particular group—leads to the same result as building a castle on crumbling sand. The Seoul 100-year Masterplan Exhibition Idea Competition was planned to address this problem…”

byoung soo cho / E-Flux architecture

The Project: Five Layers for a Nature-Based Korean City

Our project, Five Layers for a Nature-Based Korean City owes in part to Patrick’s recent work in co-authoring a chapter for the recently published book Nature-Based Solutions for Cities. Here in the exhibition piece, we suggest five principles, each one garnered from watching how trees and forests take care of the environments around them.

All of this is then rendered as a large-scale illustration, done in chalk and ink, and then digitized to render and give context to the different layers.

Science, folk traditions, and the trees themselves, astoundingly all tell us many of the same things. Lessons from trees, when applied to cities, make the places we live not only more ecologically responsible, but more livable, healthy, and connected places where all beings can live according to their true nature.

We are happy to have our work displayed in this form.

We are not architects nor urban planners, but artists and champions of a new brand of ecological urbanism that sees the city as part of nature rather than an act against nature. Thus, we enjoy the company of anyone and everyone else who holds such passion.

We would like to thank the hip, game-changing architect Byoung Soo Cho, who made an open call with such a forward-thinking theme. That detail gives a small artist-run studio like ours a chance.

Exhibition Details

The Seoul Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism runs from September 1 – October 29, 2023 at multiple locations, mainly within Seoul’s original city center. Our work is to be exhibited at the Seoul Hall of Urbanism & Architecture, adjacent to City Hall.

You can view past versions of this exhibition on the Google Arts & Culture portal.