Skygarden Seoullo in SeoulPlanting design for a high-level walkway
- Seoul, South Korea
- Years: 2015 – 2017
- Commissioned by: City of Seoul
- With: MVRDV, Korean team and ORelse
Pedestrians and botanical collection replace car traffic.
With 10 million inhabitants, Seoul, capital of South Korea, is a sprawling metropolis, where cars determine the street view. However, the local authorities have recently realized that the city needs space for pedestrians. The end of the technical life of a freeway connecting parts of the city on either side of the main railway station offered an opportunity to close the road for traffic, and to renovate it as a raised walkway high above the city. In a closed competition in 2015, including several of the world’s leading design agencies, MVRDV’s plan for a green promenade was selected. Ben Kuipers was part of the design team and responsible for the selection and organisation of the planting and its organisation. The choice was made to create a design that showcases, as much as possible, all woody plants. Organised by family according to the system of Linnaeus, but following the order of the Korean alphabet. Each tree, shrub, perennial, water plant and bulb gets its own pot, with a clear designation of its name. The pots are connected to a system in the former roadbed for irrigation, drainage and lighting. The same idiom is used to create service structures for ‘activators’, to enhance the attraction of the promenade.
Ben Kuipers MSc, landscape architect
Shaping the space in which we live is my passion. For 30 years, it has been my mission to contribute to creating a living landscape and liveable cities in our public domain. With people, for people. Flexible and focused on development over time.
I grew up on the coast. The North Sea beach for me is the ultimate design. Just water and sand, in constantly changing combinations, never the same. It is a model of power and simplicity, but also majestic and subtle. This stunning coast challenges, but also frees the visitor. In all aspects it is a living landscape and a source of inspiration for my work.
I like to work for people and organisations that want to make their space their own. With sharp analytical skills I look for the ‘question behind the question’ and the stories and unique nature of the space. Designing while researching is my style, I ask questions and listen. First gaining an overview of the whole, while keeping an eye on crucial details, I reach tailor-made, powerful designs and guidance advice.
I like to work with people in a team, where every talent comes into its own and contributes to the team result. I can be a supervisor or team leader, but work just as well as a team member, contributing to the group’s achievements. I try to motivate and inspire, based on my professional experience gained over 30 years, as well as being decisive and goal-oriented.
Bureau Ben Kuipers landscape architects is a networking office. Landscape planning is teamwork, after all. For each commission, Ben Kuipers puts together a team of experts from his extended network of experienced and passionate specialists. This ensures that each team is created especially for the job and has up-to-date knowledge and experience in several fields. Continuity is ensured through possibilities for reciprocal observation. Ben Kuipers himself either takes the reins as head contractor and/or participates in the design team.
To reach the best possible result, the focus is on both the design itself, as well as the process of creating a and executing a project. By using interactive methods, such as workshops, creating a project makes use of the expertise and experience of the public, interest groups, and government employees. This benefits both the quality of the plan, as well as its legitimacy.
Our office delivers not only powerful designs, but also transparent texts and policy documents, as well as convincing presentations. Our work can consist either of creating projects on commission, or offering guidance and advice during design process.
Communication is essential in the design process, to ensure the smooth running of the process. Our office strives to use powerful images, infographics and audio-visual media, as well as a compact and accessible language. Internet and social media are used in planning processes where necessary. Apart from these formal methods of communication, informal personal communication with the public, administrators and colleagues is a main focus.
Ben Kuipers also works ‘in company’. Design processes can be supported for a few hours or days a week, for a few weeks or even years. Supporting tasks are carried out independently, in cooperation with representatives from the commissioning authority.