Floating Islands Add 100,000 Square Feet to Downtown Seoul

Many of the most densely-populated cities in the world reside along bodies of water, from canals and sounds to seas and oceans. Beyond merely extending solid ground, this three-island project creates new mobile infrastructure right out on the waves.

In the case of Seoul, the Han River (spanned only by periodic fast-paced bridges) splits the city down the middle. To bridge the gap, this bold new project by New York firm H Architecture establishes institutional uses stunning in architectural style and engineering audacity. Each island  floats on pontoons, carefully anchored against gravity, wind and water loads, capable of withstanding monsoons.

ArchDaily summarizes the scope of the project: “Programmatically, the islands contain several cultural, educational, and recreational functions. They will be the venue for many featured events in the city. The design concept stems from the stages of a blooming flower: a seed, bud, and blossom. Each of the islands take on the form of one of these stages, manifesting as delicate yet bold structures of glass, wood, and steel.”

The smallest island (Terra) revolves around water sports, with club rooms, rooftop terraces and water slides. The next island (Viva) takes entertainment up a level, with performance and exhibit spaces. The largest (Vista) features a huge indoor space for festivals, concerts and plays. Together, they also add visual interest, both day and night, to this heretofore untapped source of potential skyline.