Heatherwick designs another island, but this one already existed

From New York’s Little Island to Seoul, where the British designer’s studio will transform the uninhabited island of Nodeul, on the Han River, into a public park.

British architecture firm Heatherwick Studio recently won the international competition to transform the uninhabited Nodeul Island in Seoul on the Han River. Titled “Soundscape,” the public park will create, according to the design descriptions, “a pathway of scenic spaces on different levels that can accommodate musical performances and artistic interventions.” Located within a green and biodiverse landscape, the architecture will be completed in 2027.

Little Island, Thomas Heatherwick's artificial island in New York, inaugurated in 2021

Selected after a year-long series of exhibitions, consultations and public voting, Studio Heatherwick believes its design, detailed by an almost mountainous topography, offers an opportunity to connect Seoul residents with nature, culture and each other.

“I am thrilled that Soundscape was chosen by the people of Seoul,” said studio founder Thomas Heatherwick. “In this hyper-digital age, we have had so many incredible innovations in the way people live, but there has also been a growing sense of loneliness and isolation. We want to create a hyper-physical place that reconnects Seoul residents with nature, culture and, most importantly, with each other.

Heatherwick Studio, Soundscape, Nodeul Island, Seoul, North Korea. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

The ground level houses an arts center and a public beach, while the existing artificial landscape is now reinforced by soft vegetation along the river banks. The landscape will elevate from the lower level into a walkway and event podium. It will be connected to a 1.2-kilometer skywalk made up of small floating islets, which will provide resting spaces and views of the island and the Han River.

Spiral staircases will also wrap around the structural columns to provide direct access between the ground floor and the elevated platforms, while an event podium will be set up at the highest point of the structure.

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