School of Architecture and Planning Goes to South Korea

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By William Becker (MArch/MUP '16)

Published May 1, 2015

This past spring break, while many students were vacationing or catching up on assignments, a contingent of School of Architecture and Planning students and faculty were busy presenting work, collaborating with partners and touring sites in South Korea. The 10 students, representing both departments of architecture and urban planning, were led by Jin Young Song, assistant professor of architecture, and advised by Brian Conley from the UB Regional Institute.

Song and his team made the seven-day trip as part of a research studio funded by the City of Yangpyeong, a sprawling suburb of Seoul challenged by rapid and unplanned growth. With Yangpyeong-based Minimax Architects and Yonsei University as research partners, Song and his students have spent the semester generating master plan and architectural concepts for compact and sustainable residential and mixed-use development. Yangpyeong's low density, protected nature and well-developed bike and rail infrastructure have made the suburb a haven for those hoping to escape the Seoul metropolis of 10 million. Yet existing developments there lack amenities and are disconnected from the city's mass transit network.

The studio focused its design research around three sites in the city - Yangsu East, Yangsu West and a connecting loop, proposing a series of ecologically-sensitive residential and mixed-used developments and greenspace.   

The trip to Yangpeyong, fully funded through the research grant, gave students the opportunity to present their mid-term progress report to city government officials and experience the sites and regional context first-hand. In addition to participating in design workshops with local partners Minimax Architects and Professor Yeonsook Lee of Yonsei University, students ventured out to explore the architecture and culture of Seoul and the surrounding area. 

Select Design Concepts Presented to Yangpyeong City Government

Yangsu East, mixed use proposal

A rendered perspective of a mixed-used, ecologically sensitive development proposal for Yangsu East, one of three sites for which the team has been tasked with providing a compact and sustainable vision for future growth. This particular proposal emphasizes the importance of connecting to existing systems, both natural and manmade, in order to limit the impacts of human development on the ecosystem and to create vibrant and socially engaging places for people. The green roofs and bio-retention basins, which can be seen in the rendering, are part of a larger system of underground cisterns and other elements that retain, filter, and recycle stormwater. The bike path, which is part of a larger proposed complete streetscape, links to South Korea’s national Hangang bike path as part of an overall scheme promoting pedestrian and transit-oriented development.

Image credit: Sarah Cleversley

preliminary site plan of Yangsu West

A preliminary site plan of Yangsu West depicting another mixed-used, ecologically sensitive development proposal. This particular vision proposes a set of three pedestrianized corridors (the vertical grey bands depicted in the image) that link the residential towers to the nearby eco-park and riverfront. Small constructed wetlands occupy the courtyards between towers providing an amenity for the residents and adding to the stormwater management capacity of the site. In addition to connecting residents to nature, the team also planned the residential towers so that each unit has access to daylighting and a variety of public and semi-private spaces and amenities.

Image credit: Ryan Hughes and Farrah Matovu

Tours and Site Visits

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Studio Roster

  • Jin Young Song, Professor
  • Brian Conley, UB Regional Institute, Teaching Fellow
  • Seohong Min, Minimax Architects, Local architect, Teaching Fellow
  • Na Ra Park, SWA Group, Landscape consultant, Teaching Fellow
  • Ryan Hughes, B.Arch candidate
  • Yangxin Bai, B.Arch candidate
  • Sarah Cleversley, B.Arch candidate
  • Farrah Matovu, B.Arch candidate
  • John Wightman, B.Arch/BFA candidate
  • Tino Goo, M.Arch candidate
  • Aaron Salva, M.Arch candidate
  • Hashim Radwan, M.Arch candidate
  • William Becker, M.Arch/MUP candidate
  • Han Du, MUP candidate