Magok Waterfront Seoul
Seoul, Korea

Design team: Dr Cristian Suau, External Reference, Kevin Hong, Esther Rovira, Tudor Vlasceanu & Phil Hanshaw
Client: Magok Authority - Seoul Government
Publication: Korean design media
Type: masterplanning, landscaping, water management, urban design
Year: 2008
Award: short listed
Building system: diagrid and concrete slab's buildings
Landscape: water ponds, natural sewage, water aeration and treatment, greenery, reforestation
Place: Magok, Seoul

1. Key questions
- What is the vision of an 'urbanised' wetland?
- How can a wetland become a park?
- How are urban parks perceived and utilised in Korea?
Our proposal is to form a territory of co-existence between nature and artificiality. From its largest context as the first site of the Han River Renaissance Project to its desires to transform the area of Magok, a strong identity strategy is proposed through waterscapes, transport structures and building types. Underlying the strategy and form throughout the site is the development of eco-formations. These creations of land manipulation both consider the requirements of promoting waterfront ecology with leisure and park amenities. They perform environmentally through water terracing and an informality of leisure space through a substantial wetlands network. With so much transport and services infrastructures currently being implemented into the site, we looked to take a direct and pragmatic approach to utilizing the given networks. We acknowledge and highlight the importance of local, national and international transport links as fundamental in the design of such a strategic urban structure.

2. Waterscape
A. Connections
Between the site and the Han River sits Olympic Expressway and fundamental to our proposal is to form a strong connection with the river. We propose to alter this expressway barrier and provide direct leisure access and water management to Han River in form of a 'barrage', sluice gates and fish pass. The significance of this barrage allows for the waterscapes and jetties forming a controlled waterfront landscape. The symbolic significance of having physical water access is integral to creating a sustaining identity for Magok as a waterfront leisure destination. Further to the connection from the Han River is the connection between the north and south lakes. From the Yangcheon-gil road, a floodgate, sluice and fish pass is also proposed to accommodate the level difference as and to create further links into the site right up to the transport link at rail station 905 along line No. 9.
B. Wetlands
Along the shoreline of the lake park a substantial amount of the scheme considers the use of wetlands not only in promoting the environmental benefits but also as a transition between land and water. The consideration is that the shoreline designation will fluctuate with rainfall and other factors to form a localized habitat that will have direct access with close proximity to the urban surroundings. This juxtaposition of wetlands and urban context establishes an opportunity in creating a progressive and distinct character.
C. Water terracing
The central theme of waterfront forms a series of waterscapes systems within the site. Taking account of strategic site levels and the need for an urban ecology, water-terracing systems are used to form a systematic structure for implementation. These terracing elements, acting as the surface water treatment system, give visual and dynamic clarity as to the identity for Magok.

3. Eco-Formations
The coexistence of nature and artificiality allows opportunity to have a series of 'eco-formations'. These wetland formations operated as double uses, on the one hand providing recreation and amenities to the site but also performing as active ecological systems of water purification. For example, in the form of biotypes of flora and fauna, land reclamation forms and terracing surface water treatment filtration. This pragmatic approach provides this opportunity to form a landscape infrastructure.
- Eco-cells
The base layer of Magok Waterfront is composed of man-made formations that identify concavities and convexities in the proposed landscape, a sweeping topography of hills and craters. Using bulldozers these forms would be constructed into terraces up or down similar to land fill sites, copper quarries, etc. The cells will create a dramatic environment reminiscent of flooding rice fields. The intention is that the formations are not finalised shapes but platforms for future developments. Each formation is unique and will have multi-purposes ranging from landscapes that fold and bridge over roads to new parkland.
- Wetland terraces
Connecting this terracing section is the hydro-oxygenation farm system. This unique ecology distinguishes platforms linking one to another and serving as a purification and drainage mechanism. These wetland terraces become particularly dense against the periphery of the south side where the creeks end. The surface water is filtered and purified in each ecobuffer.
The strategy of generating landscape starts of a unit, an octagonal cell, organised to purify water to be used in its interior. The amount of specific treated water drained towards the basins contributes to the
improvement of environmental water surface and therefore the Han River. The urban fabric resulting that forms the shores of the river is the result of the addition of these cellular units differentiated by the programme, weaving a body through an infrastructure catchments, treatment and draining of water and other infrastructure in
overlaying uses, etc. The very logic of the movement of water by gravity originates or staged terraced topographies in cellular and global scale.

4. Water treatment strategy in Magok
The River Barrage construction is a key project in the regeneration of Magok Waterfront. This major civil engineering project will establish a freshwater lake that will be the catalyst for regeneration of the entire area. The Barrage would be operated and maintained by Magok harbour authority staff 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The change from saline to freshwater in the Bay will create a unique environment, which will provide the Harbour Authority with a range of environmental challenges and conservation development opportunities.
A. The river barrage
It incorporates three sluice gates, which would allow drain down of impoundments over one tidal cycle in an emergency. It includes two locks for vessel navigation to/from the Magok river. It acts as a flood defence to the Magok area.
B. Environmental management: dissolved oxygen
Ideally the lakes would require the dissolved oxygen level within the impoundment to be maintained at or above 5mg/l in all places and at all times. The 100%ile dissolved oxygen standard would be maintained using a water mixing system.
C. Water quality monitoring
A comprehensive water quality-monitoring programme will be set in place. It consists of 24/7 electronic data acquisition for dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, conductivity and turbidity at 15 minutes intervals from several monitoring stations. Data will be telemetered to the Magok Harbour Authority office on an hourly basis.
D. Debris/litter management
Debris deposited in the area each year by the Magok River and the main basins can be collected and disposed of on a daily basis. Waste would be removed from the water using a purpose-made vessel, a floating bulldozer called a Waterwitch, which has a one tonne scoop lifting capacity. Land-based teams would then collect debris from areas inaccessible to the water witch. The collected debris can be separated wherever possible for recycling purposes. Of this litter and debris, clean and bulky timber can be used as fuel for a Biomass Boiler at the Harbour.
E. Han River intrusion
A standard of low salinity within the inner lakes would be maintained to protect freshwater ecology. River water entering the Magok reservoir via locking operations would be contained within a constructed underwater 'sump' immediately lakeside of the locks. A 1200mm diameter pipe with integral butterfly valve (to regulate water flow) would return water from the base of the sump to the outer barrage side (Han River). Management of use of the pipe is informed by telemetered data. Any river water incursion occurring through sluice structures or fish pass is detected by data sondes at 1m and 4m above bed level immediately Lake side of the sluices. If salt is detected it is dissipated by mixing using air emerging from an array of diffuser heads (not part of the general inner basins mixing system).
F. Migratory fish
A migratory fish-monitoring programme can be set up. Native fish stocks can be monitored and maintained. A state of the art fish pass incorporated into the barrage structure will allow migratory fish to pass in/out of the Bay at all stages of tidal variation.
G. Aquatic weed management pest
Conditions within the creeks channels, wetlands and inner lakes margins are favourable for the growth of aquatic weed. A purpose built amphibious vessel would be deployed for cutting weeds to a maximum depth of 1.5 metres to maintain navigable channels and also allow access to shallow areas for litter control that would otherwise be inaccessible to conventional craft.
H. Wetland reserves
Magok Waterfront can be undertaken to further enhance the habitats for birds and fish, and a thriving ecosystem can be established in the south and north basin. The prime conservation area within the lakes will be the wetlands. These marsh zones will be constructed and managed to maximise the potential for roosting
and breeding birds. Their management will promote a steady change from saline to freshwater plants. This will support a diverse population of plants, insects, amphibians and mammals.

5. Transport network
In principle the urban structures respond systematically to the main transport stations linking Seoul city centre and both Gimpo and Incheon international airports. From these main attractors, a network is formed as a body conditioned to the specific site and local commerce.
A. Roads
Along with the current large scale transport infrastructure being undertaken, we look to the condition of the Olympic Expressway with the site as key to establishing a strong riverfront presence. Without disturbing the flow of the expressway, we look to create direct visual access to the Han River. By creating a road intersection from the Expressway to the Western edge of the site, we propose reconfiguring Olympic Expressway underground to
allow for visual and pedestrian access directly to the river's edge.
B. Bike circuit
A integrated, comprehensive cycle network is proposed throughout the site. The main circuit follows the shoreline of the two lakes linking all programs. Secondary paths branch off to connect directly to strategic links within each zone. These consider the other transport links in which generous, traffic-free pathways will encourage cycling as the most efficient method of accessing the site. The network program is designed to provide experience through different landscapes and programs. With the water terracing and earth forming, there will be gentle gradients along with varying ecologies from cycling through wetlands to connections with urban train hubs to direct link to bordering street network.
C. Public transport
- Over-ground transport bus
With such important transport infrastructure running through the site and following the internal connection roads, a local bus service is proposed. It is envisaged that these provide the local chain directly forming a link with both Gimpo and Incheon International Airports. Through connections to the train stations, the bus links will not only provide service for tourists but act as integrated into the other local systems.
- Water bus
It is a public transport in connection to bus stops and bike parking. There is a fleet of two water buses. The boats will have protection against unpredictable weather and large opening windows to make the most of fine days. There are 3 stations along the Magok Waterfront: Convention Center (south side); Old Pump Station and The Barrage (north side).

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waterlilies, Claude Monet: initial concept

waterlilies: living formations

eco-formations in magok park  

masterplan model 1  

masterplan model 2  

layout -magok park  

overall view of magok park  

overall view of magok park  

eco-formations in magok park  

view towards magok park  

inner views in building types  

expressway in magok park  

zones in magok park  

barrage-sluice systems in basin  

topographic strategy - magok park  

diagram of water treatment  

diagram of terraces - purification  water system

layout of water treatment magok park

layering of landscape & water process in magok park

water aeration in magok park  

transport exchange in magok park: cars & buses

transport exchange in magok park: pedestrian & bike circuits

road system in magok park  

programmatic nodes  magok park

energy & water strategy in magok park

across sections through  eco-formations

general sections through magok mark's site

key sections through the built edge in magok park

drainage & purification sections in magok park

the towers in magok park  

overall masterplan magok park, seoul