Architecture Smart Cities Urban design

UNStudio unveils Project H1, a new tech-assisted masterplan for a 10-minute city in Seoul

October 29, 2021

In 2019, UNStudio was invited by the Hyundai Development Company to design a superior, green, mixed-use neighbourhood in Seoul; a smart ’10-minute city’ for the new digital economy, where open innovation, green energy and diversity create an attractive and productive area to live, work and play.

Hot on the heels of the recent 15-minute City concept by French academic, Prof Carlos Moreno, that won the 2021 OBEL AWARD, Project H1 by UNStudio has a similar concept, albeit one that leverages technology on a much greater scale than Professor Moreno’s concept. It involves the transformation of an existing industrial site and railway area into a 504,000m2 neighbourhood for the new digital economy. As such, alongside the inclusion of a wide variety of layered private, semi-public and public programmes, UNStudio collaborated with the consultancy arm of UNSense to propose a plan for the integration of tailored, on-demand digital packages for the future residents.

This added tech layer is designed to complement the physical urban plan and create a fully digitally serviced neighbourhood — thus going beyond the usual efficiency focus of Smart City models to enhance the daily lives of the residents and free up time for leisure activities. This digital infrastructure can also be used for the management of energy production and consumption and of communal spaces, such as those cultivated for local food production schemes.

In the design, the different layers of the physical masterplan and the digital interface work together to provide residents of all ages and family configurations with a smart, healthy, green environment where contemporary working, living and entertainment are all combined in one neighbourhood; a productive neighbourhood of convenience, comfort and community. It seems that Project H1 can serve as a pilot for an adaptable strategy for mixed-use urban developments of the future. Project H1 will be a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood with spacious streets and nature. It aims to be a place where residents have all the conveniences of the city within a 10-minute walk from their homes.

“For the H1 masterplan we have aimed to create the ultimate contemporary 10-minute city, where the daily life experience of the residents is the top priority. We do this through the inclusion of a rich density of uplifting, curated on-site experiences that provide an extensive range of options for how they can spend their living, working and leisure time, thereby also saving them the time needed to travel elsewhere in the city – because with time that is saved, more time is created.”

Ben van Berkel, Principal and Co-Founder, UNStudio

H1 is a mixed-use neighbourhood that relies on system design, where, rather than being fixed, certain components can be arranged according to different needs. This enables the masterplan to incorporate various approaches to flexibility and adaptability across different typologies and scales.

“We have taken an approach of ‘flexible urban density’. This enables the multi-functional use of public space and employs mixed-use organisational models to ensure that the residents can meet, connect and socialise, both in planned and spontaneous scenarios. The components of the masterplan not only encourage the creation of strong community bonds, the proposed digital service packages also create an unprecedented level of convenience for the residents.”

Ben van Berkel

Team credits:
UNStudio: Ben van Berkel, Gerard Loozekoot with Crystal Tang and Sara Campagna, Nawid Piracha, Atira Ariffin, Gys le Roux, Tommy Kim, Kyuseung Kyoung, Dongmin Lee, Moon Young Jeong, Alistair Williams, Wael Batal, Nanang Santoso, Rebekah Tien, Luigi Olivieri, Aleksandra Swilinska, Maria Zafeiriadou, Alice Haugh, Pedro Silva Costa, Sujie Park, Yangkenan Li, Jinhyun Kim, Yinying Chen
UNSense: Ben van Berkel with Ren Yee and Huey Hoong Chan

Local architect of record: Kunwon Architects
Landscape Architect: Lodewijk Baljon

Visualisations: WAX & Virgin Lemon

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