Re-inventing Apkujung, Seoul, South Korea

Introduction:The neighborhood of Apkujung displays a complex urban fabric interwoven with large residential buildings and commercial spaces. Situated in the affluent Kangnam District of Seoul, Apkujung is a stretch of land that borders the city\’s financial district and is easily accessible by public transportation from other areas of Seoul. A prime real estate sector, Apkujung lies 500 meters from the river\’s waterfront.Population density in Apkujung is among the city\’s highest, with the largest concentration of apartment complexes per square foot in the country. Its demographic makeup has not changed much in the past twenty years, with its residents being predominantly high-income families with school-age children or working professionals who grew up in the area. A deciding factor in the rising cost of housing and the suppressing of the turnover rate is Kangnam\’s prestigious school district. It is safe to say that Apkujung is the most sought after school district in the entire nation. There are five elementary, junior and senior high schools within its immediate vicinity. Apkujung is also one of Seoul\’s most popular shopping and entertainment areas, attracting the trendy and the fashionable. Apkujung caters to crowds of all ages, hosting upscale eateries and fast-food restaurants, attractive shops and luxury boutiques, cafes and bars. On any given night, its restaurants, cafes and shops are crowded with a mixture of non-residents and residents alike. In short, Apkujung embodies Korea\’s worship of wealth, youth and pop culture in modernity.Description of Problem:Fueled by the strength of the Korean economy in the early 1980s, Apkujung has been growing in astonishing proportions. However, poor initial planning and hasty development has put social and community development at a standstill. Although its residents are some of the wealthiest in the nation, they live in sub-standard and outdated mass-produced concrete housing complexes. This undesirable physical layout limits opportunities for interaction and discourages socialization among local residents. Apkujung residents also suffer from a severe lack of public space and recreational facilities (including centers for neighborhood youth) and from an onslaught of problems caused by too many automobiles and not enough parking spaces. The average number of automobiles owned by residents equals three per family creating parking shortages. The heavy influx of visitors only augments the severity of traffic problems and heightens the oppressiveness felt by both residents and visitors. Current Developmental Trends:After about twenty years of aggressive construction projects, the real estate and housing development sector has reached a cyclical turning point. Faced with market saturation, developers are now shifting their attention to the redevelopment of existing residential areas. In almost all cases, these redevelopment projects involve bigger and considerably taller apartment complexes. Customarily, individual owners (organized in a condominium-like fashion) will seek temporary relocation during construction time (with rents paid by financing banks) while a construction company will constitute the third – and all important – partner in the rebuilding process (sometimes, a number of blocks are sectored off to accommodate the temporary relocation of residents until the building completion date).Description of Site:The proposed project area is within a 20 acre pocket of residential and commercial space bounded by four distinct edges: the expressway to the north, the ramp from the Dong-Ho Bridge coming down to the east, the commercial strip of storefronts and a subway station to the south (including a major department store and an open parking lot), and other blocks of apartment complexes to the west. Project Objectives:The studio calls for an \”urban intervention\” within the framework of the