West 8 wins Yongsan Park competition in Seoul

West 8 has won International Competition for Master Plan of Yongsan Park, Korea. On the 23 April, the organizer of the competition, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Korea announced the exciting news.

The project site is a large area in the centre of Seoul with a total area of circa 243 ha that has been in use as a military base for an extensive period both during the Japanese occupation and under post-War American protection. The vision of the competition, as described in the brief, is to create a park in which nature, culture, history and the future are in harmony. It will be a park which restores, sublimates, and expands upon the history and local characteristics of the area. This park shall regain the respect for nature and reclaims the lost and damaged ecological system. It will eventually become a park of new urban culture for the preservation of green spaces and a sustainable future

The new Master Plan for Yongsan National Park proposed by West 8 + IROJE has been developed through an interactive process that has consistently returned to the fundamental concept of healing. The act of healing is a process that transforms the existing site through an awareness of its history into a world-class park that inspires illusions of nature, ecological restoration and a wide ranging urban park culture. Continue reading

IFLA 2011 Zurich: Keynote of Kongjian Yu

One of the greatest inspirations to further my interest and research into the urban condition and how our interventions can impact it more positively, or at least do less damage!  Prof. Yu was, according to local Landscape Architects from Cape Town who attended this conference, one of the most inspirational and interesting speakers.

Keynote speech of Prof. Dr. Kongjian Yu, Turenscape, Landscape Architecture, Urban Planning, Beijingat the IFLA World Congress 2011 Zurich, Switzerland, June 27-29, ifla2011.com.

Prof. Yu is the founder of the Turenscape landscape architecture firm and the Graduate School of Landscape Architecture at Beijing University. Through his lecturing and the projects he has been involved with, he has rapidly become one of the leading contemporary landscape architects in China and enjoys significant international renown.


The Conscientizacao of the Landscape: An Interview with Kongjian Yu

Like faslanyc I was engaged by the original article in The Harvard Design Revue and its inclusion in Ecological Urbanism, where it resonates with the article by Rem Koolhaas whose CNNT building is critiqued inthe article .. I am very pleased to have found this interview with Dr. Yu

Last year about this time we were paging through the saucy Harvard Design Magazine issue on pleasure and we came across an article by Dr. Kongjian Yu titled “Big Beautiful Feet”.  He is the principal of the Chinese landscape architecture firm Turenscape, an incredibly prolific group that has gained wide recognition for design excellence in the last decade.  To be properly understood, the work of Turenscape must be contextualized as part of the rapid and ongoing urbanization of China, and situated within the contemporary China-United States cultural/capital exchange.
Unfortunately, we are not capable or qualified to do that properly.  Fortunately, their work is rich enough to offer many veins for mining and given our concern with landscapes of labor, fun, and hedonism and our interest in the development of a new landscape aesthetic through an expandedunderstanding of recreation, we were thrilled to have the chance to speak with him in person.  We discussed the effort and strategy behind creating the first modern Chinese landscape architecture firm, the idea of labor as related to the “Big, Beautiful Feet” aesthetic, and understanding the practice of landscape architecture as a cultural-environmental framework.

The infamous red ribbon of the Tanghe River Park, in Qinhuangdao City, China, by Turenscape

FASLANYC:  The name of your firm, what does it mean?
Konjian Yu:  Turenscape has a couple of meanings.  “Tu” in Chinese means earth- native dirt.  “Ren” means people, so it’s literally “people of the native dirt”.  When you combine them it means “land and people.”  And it also has a pejorative connotation to the urban elite in Chinese; something like “lowly pumpkin.”
FN:  Almost like redneck, or country boy, or jibaro?
YK:  Yes, that’s interesting.  I like it like that.  I chose the name based on my perspective of the profession during the course of my life.  In 1997 after two years at SWA, i decided to go back to China.  The reason i wanted to go back was the massive change happening in China.  I saw all the rivers being channelized, the cultural heritage disappearing, the landscape being dominated by urban sprawl.  This was in 1996 when I was visiting in China.  When i came back to the States i decided I needed to move to China to get involved and push for things to be done in what I considered the “right way”.  And I chose the name because i think we will eventually return to the earth, for living and survival. Continue reading