Gwangju Biennale Garden

Gwangju Biennale Garden

In most Asian cities, the lifespan of a building is shorter than that of man. So the shifting or pressure on public space is a constant reality, leaving public spaces residing as a by-product of the frantic rush to modernization. Many of these leftover areas labelled as public space lack any real human interaction or level of use to and for the public. Let alone cater to the different age groups, gender or mobility of city dwellers. Should we not state that public space belongs to the public? Should it not offer something to the public? Or is a public space a space, an opportunity, where the public can “make a place”?

With Urban Bloom, we try to explore this vulnerability in our public spaces. It is an experiment in human interest taking precedence over a design intention or infrastructural need. This installation renews and invigorates urbanism, transforming a bare leftover public space into an urban oasis. The landscape, constructed entirely from artificial means, is a project for a city that emphasizes people.

It is a pop-up garden whose sole design intent is to bring joy. It reflects balloon-like shapes that hold colorful foliage, floating above the courtyard like the leaves of trees, flooding the space with shadows and shapes. Where wide varieties of flowers and vegetation are placed among the modules, and as they blossom, the platform transforms into an open, welcoming garden.

It encourages visitors to explore the space and interpret its purpose with their lens. In the same way that certain city blocks flow with rivers of people, or flowers grow toward the light, the behaviour pattern of each visitor, and the energy of the environment will intangibly define the space and its character.

This space is low-impact, with its rented pallets, interacting with natural elements in an artificial way. So much about urbanism is not sustainable – the pace of life, waste, cost but with Urban Bloom, we try to prove that it’s possible to make something new from nothing new at all.

Project Name: Urban Bloom
Location: Gwangju, Korea
Size: 330 sqm
Design Team: Wendy Saunders, Vincent de Graaf, Shirley Woo at AIM ARCHITECTURE
Landscape Team: Sunghwan Ryu at The Gardenest
Event Organizer: Gwangju Design Biennale
Photography: ©Juneyoung Lim, 2019 Gwangju Design Biennale by Gwangju Design Center Foundation