The United Arab Emirates gets all the attention for crazy urban schemes—from zero-carbon cities to kinetic, swirling skyscrapers. South Korea is lesser known, but it’s also got grand ambitions and tech-crazed urban planners: For example, New Songdo City, currently being developed on reclaimed land 40 miles outside of Seoul, will have a wireless network that connects residential, business, and medical systems and computers studding the houses and streets.
No wonder then that South Korea has an appetite for futuristic architectural schemes. A current show in Ansan, just south of Seoul, displays four pie-in-the-sky schemes for reinventing the city, designed by four buzzed-about architecture firms: BIG in Copenhagen, INABA in L.A., MAD in Beijing, and Mass Studies in Seoul. The big idea is to make architecture made of stand-alone units, which would allow projects to be expanded or scaled back during planning. (One of the big problems with big projects is that developers get stuck with huge buildings just as the economy tanks.)
BIG proposes a series of stacked boxes:
Mass Studies has a scheme that looks like interlocking gears:
MAD has a straight-up weird building that looks lifted from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds remake:
Inaba’s design might remind you of the CCTV tower, nearly completed in Beijing: