Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

This site uses cookies. By using our services, you agree to our cookie use.
Learn more here.

Competition: The Reconstruction of Commons

An international student ideas contest has been launched to rethink how public spaces are used in urban areas around the world (Deadline: 18 October)

Organised by Japan-based timber firm Shelter, the Reconstruction of Commons competition seeks innovative concepts which maintain and modernise existing rural resources and boost access to urban green spaces for all.

The project aims to focus city planners’ attention on the need to protect common spaces, which promote a sense of shared identity and connectivity between communities. The competition responds to the growing lack of natural resources within urban areas by inviting aspiring architects to rethink how common assets and nature itself can be curated within the built environment.

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Source: Image by Ossip van Duivenbode

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

According to the brief: ‘In rural regions and fishing villages there still exist “commons” such as mountains, forests and water areas that are jointly managed and utilised by the local community. It could be said however, that such commons are almost non-existent in urban areas, especially in Japan.

‘What do you consider as shared resources in the city? Can we maintain and manage the resources of rural regions and fishing villages as we have done so far? How can we ensure accessibility to resources? How can architecture respond to these issues?’

Proposals may focus on any urban or rural setting which requires a rethink of its resource management strategy for common use. Examples which highlight specific solutions to unique problems are encouraged.

The competition is organised by Shelter, a Tokyo timber company specialising in flexible large-scale solutions for administrative-sized buildings that are resistant to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Participation may be in English or Japanese. The jury features five professional and academic architects and is chaired by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, co-founder of Atelier Bow-Wow. Physical submissions must include one-A2 board featuring diagrams and explanations, presented in either landscape or portrait orientation.

The overall winner, to be announced on 16 December following an open presentation session, will receive 2 million Yen while a second prize of 500,000 Yen and third prize of 100,000 Yen will also be awarded.

How to apply

Deadline

The deadline for submissions is 18 October

Contact details

Shelter Co
Shiba-mita-mori building
5-13-15 Shiba
Minato-ku
Tokyo
108-0014
Japan

Email: shelter@siac.jp
Tel: +81-(0)3 5418 8800

Visit the competition website for more information

Seoullo Skygarden case study: Q&A with MVRDV

The Rotterdam-based practice discusses lessons learned converting a former highway into a new public park in Seoul, South Korea

How did your Seoullo 7017 project create a new accessible common space for inhabitants of the Korean capital?

Seoullo 7017 Skygarden offers a living dictionary of the natural heritage of South Korea to the city centre of Seoul. All 24,000 plants, all indigenous species arranged according to the Korean alphabet, are in containers of different sizes. The garden also connects the city dwellers and its visitors to nature, allowing users experiencing amazing views of the historical Seoul Station and Namdaemun Gate. It is an educational arboretum, and also a nursery for future species. This public garden for Seoul is a transformation of a 1970’s highway into and is a way to contribute positively to the daily life of thousands of people who cross Seoul’s city centre every day. It is a unique public park in the heart of the city with a diverse amount of native plant species.

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Source: Image by Ossip van Duivenbode

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Which architectural, material, landscape and other methods did you harness in your design?

We worked with what was already present: an overpass built in 1970 but now transformed into a pedestrianised, green and more attractive walkway. From the start, MVRDV engaged with the need to change this infrastructural element into a green symbol, thus changing the image of the city centre of Seoul and importantly, its sustainability goals.

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Source: Image by Ossip van Duivenbode

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

The park is also a social space as it not only connects with the bustling transportation hub of central station, but is populated with small pavilions – cafés, shops, exhibitions, gardener’s rooms, trampolines, foot baths, stages, a children’s theatre and a 7017 memorial that serves as an information centre as well. These all enhance the experience of the users, boosting the park with extra fun activities that engage the city on a cultural and commercial level. Multiple stairs, lifts, bridges and escalators connect the city to the new park, rebounding it to the adjacent urban fabric.

Together with the Seoul’s Municipality, local NGOs, landscape teams and city advisers, there was a deep commitment to accommodating the biggest diversity of flora into a strictly urban condition.

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Source: Image by Ossip van Duivenbode

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

What advice would you have to contest participants on rethinking the future of common spaces in urban areas?

Changing industries and evolving social environments make room for often large-scale urban transformations but, at the same time, many existing buildings within these cities are abandoned and not up for redevelopment. In some countries, industrial areas are up for development, in other places large port areas are fit for a redefinition. MVRDV has, since its foundation in 1993, argued for strategies that increase the density and capacity of the built environment. Transformation is a great chance to achieve this enhanced consumption and population boom.

This is what we did with Skygarden, a win-win situation of reuse that has contributed to making Seoul city centre both more sustainable and attractive. This task of how to contribute positively to the future built environment is one that the next generation of architects will certainly take up. As much as we try to imagine what the future of common spaces in urban areas will look like, much potential lies in how we think differently about reworking what already exists.

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV

Source: Image by Ossip van Duivenbode

Seoullo Skygarden by MVRDV