Gwanggyo Power Centre by MVRDV



Dutch atchitects MVRDV have won a competition to design a city centre for Gwanggyo, a new town south of Seoul, Korea.


The design will be one of two centres envisioned for the future new town, a self sufficient city of 77,000 inhabitants located 35 km south of Seoul.


The Gwanggyo Power Centre will comprise housing, office, culture, retail, leisure and education spaces.


"This diverse program has different needs for phasing, positioning and size,"say the architects. "To facilitate this all elements are designed as rings. By pushing these rings outwards, every part of the program receives a terrace for outdoor life."


Box hedges are planted on the terraces and roofs of the buildings, which are intended to improve ventilation, and reduce energy and water usage. Atriums within each tower create lobbies for housing and offices, plazas for the shopping centre, and halls for the museum and leisure areas.


Completion of the development is envisioned for 2011.

The following information is from MVRDV:


MVRDV wins Gwanggyo City Centre Competition, near Seoul, South Korea

The Daewoo Consortium and the municipality of Gwanggyo announced the MVRDV concept design for a dense city centre winner of the developer’s competition for the future new town of Gwanggyo, located 35km south of the Korean capital Seoul. The plan consists of a series of overgrown hill shaped buildings with great programmatic diversity, aiming for high urban density and encouragement of further developments around this so-called ‘Power Centre’, one of the envisioned two centre’s of the future new town.

Since the beginning of the millennium local nodes with a high density concentration of mixed program are used in Korean town planning. These nodes consist of a mix of public, retail, culture, housing, offices and leisure generating life in new metropolitan areas and encouraging further developments around them: the Power Centre strategy. The Gwanggyo Power Centre will consist of 200,000m2 housing, 48,000m2 offices, 200,000m2 mix of culture, retail, leisure and education and 200,000m2 parking.

This diverse program has different needs for phasing, positioning and size. To facilitate this all elements are designed as rings. By pushing these rings outwards, every part of the program receives a terrace for outdoor life. Plantations around the terraces with a floor to floor circulation system store water and irrigate the plants. The roofs of these hills and the terraces are planted with box hedges creating a strong, recognizable, cohesive park. This vertical park will improve the climate and ventilation, reduce energy and water usage. As a result a series of overgrown green ‘hills’ appear in the landscape.

The site is surrounded by a beautiful lake and forested hills, the design aims to create a landscape on top of the new program that enlarges the green qualities and that links the surrounding parks by turning the site into a park.

The shifting of the floors causes as a counter effect hollow cores that form large atriums. They serve as lobbies for the housing and offices, plazas for the shopping center and halls for the museum and leisure functions. In each tower a number of voids connect to the atrium providing for light and ventilation and creating semi-public spaces. On the lower floors the atriums are connected through a series of public spaces on various levels linking the towers and serving the outdoor facilities of the culture, retail and leisure program. The Power Centre creates a dense urban program with a green regard.

The concept plan is currently at the Gyeonggi provincial authority’s Urban Innovation Corporation for further development and feasibility study, the entire new town will be a self sufficient city of 77,000 inhabitants. The estimated budget and timeframe are still in the process of being established, completion is envisioned for 2011. A consortium lead by Daewoo develops the project with local firm DA Group, which commissioned MVRDV to design the scheme. British firm Arup is involved as engineer.

Posted on Wednesday December 3rd 2008 at 12:53 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • berec

    the same project is on skysrapercity…

    looks a bit diffrent, which one is newer?

  • rude

    “nipples of mother earth”

  • One

    berec,… this can not be the truth… com’on you manipulator… your ref is so different from what it made by MVRDV!

  • Kangwon

    The one on Skyscrapercity is by DA Group from Korea

  • NA

    I guess there are some similarities, but certainly the MVRDV project takes it to a whole other level. The striated topology is awesome at this scale. I think this would be great if it gets built.

  • AD Y

    mmm pancakes

  • yskov

    “nipples of mother earth”

    …and it´s apparently very cold.

  • tim

    I dont know. If you look at the location of the obelisks/hills/whatever, they are located in the exact same position as the other rendering berec posted! It seems more likely that perhaps the form was a given in this competition?

  • Cp

    Ken Yeang’s admirer??!

  • They look like lush sharply inclining South American peaks. I would almost expect a pyramid to emerge. The grandeur reminds me of depictions of ancient Athens. What a feat it would be to construct not only the technical aspect but environmentally conscious side too.

  • rik

    i think the design is difficult to actually work in real. if it would be build it could be spectaculair but only if they actually invest some big stuff in this project.

  • DB

    Initially it looks awesome; I’ve always loved the idea of a city that’s somehow a forest, but to cram 70,000 people there? That’s not going to be a place I want to live. We in the US have seen what happens when you place that many people in close proximity. You get an increase in sickness, general aggressiveness, etc. Maybe we’re just used to the wild west concept, but the idea of living in a chia pet beehive just doesn’t sound very appealing. The idea is supposed to be less people, not more building ;)

  • bip

    welcome to teletubby city!!!

  • peridothound

    Damnit…all slabs. The green stuff is pretty though. The forms are disconcerting, but refreshingly so. I am a fan of their work – I don’t live or work in any of it so its purely a pornographic admiration.

  • tokyoaddict
  • Pretty bizarre.

    Its interesting to see what OMA-graduate architects think up when they are confronted with the possibility of designing in Asia.

    It seems like murky watter when an architect that doesn’t have the office size of larger global firms that have a handle on the Asia market, take on something of this scale, when there previous work suggests that they may be better suited to explore architecture more on paper than in reality.

    I dont really understand this, is it so weird looking because MVRDV wanted to impress their clients with something original, or because they really thought that the city of Gwanggyo would benefit from this structure.

    However, the way the building tapers allowing for plants is a step somewhere. Will it work… Who knows

  • Kangwon

    Hey DB, they wrote “the entire new town will be a self sufficient city of 77,000 inhabitants” – not all of them will live in the centre. In general though Korea is densly populated and has little problems with social aggressiveness.

  • Patrick

    looks more like the winning architect’s plan was reworked by another office…

  • Freddy_C

    always great

  • berec

    maybe you're right with the postions which were given in the competition, I'm really happy MVRDV won and not the DA Group. I like their projects and it's good to see that such a design can win against the commercial design of DA.

    I really really didn't want to say that they have copied something from DA…

  • Korean

    Was this an idea competition?
    Seems like bacheolor’s graduation work!

  • dollboy

    do they vibrate, when the economy reaches dangerous levels?

  • A

    mmmm… Some-one was looking at Vicente Guallart when they did this…..

  • Joe

    FINALLY a green top to every exposed area. Finally a building that can at least have a chance of producing and not just consuming.

  • Its mainly a ripoff of Bjarke Ingels Gruppe’s Lego project

  • j.

    gross. that’s all. just gross. would anyone actually want to live there? not me. and, stepped-back building facades with planted edges have been done before… in horrid 1970s american office parks. the green looks lovely in the renderings but the reality is often much different.

    1) it’s a monoculture (woo hoo, box-hedges, exciting!)
    2) who’s going to maintain it?

    plus, the one rendering of an interior space looks horrifyingly boring. (ooh! white floors and ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows! what WILL they think of next!?) again… 1970s office park. ugh.

  • Wow.

    I just completed my thesis at Harvard GSD last spring and this project is uncannily (eerily) similar. I realize everything is based on everything and there’s nothing new under the sun, but when I did my thesis I had not seen anything like this (and one of my jurors said the same thing at final review – that it was a form they’d never seen – though they didn’t particularly like it =).

    Check out the end of this video from my mid-review for renderings that are almost identical, and almost a year old now!

    I’m flabbergasted.

  • Matt

    Box hedges don’t reduce water and energy use, they increase it. Try looking at and collecting the indigenous seeds of that area before it is destroyed and replanting that instead of box hedges. Sure, the result may not be square but it will require as much rain and sun as the area currently receives. Nice form, looks like termite mounds.

  • Guan

    CP , i agree with you. i really feel this scheme is so similar Ken Yeang’s designs.

  • _J_

    That form is not new…anyone been to Angkor Wot or other Cambodian/Thai temples? Very reminiscent.

  • atomant

    DRAGONBALL!!! If any of you read the dragonball series im sure you would see some resemblence.

  • aarkay

    damn anthills…………magnified many times over…..and with people instead of termites……….can we have some excitement variety etc etc??

  • WOW !!!!Congratulations!

  • batman

    i want one of these in gotham

  • convinceable

    Termite mounds is exactly how I describe the standard Korean apartment building that exists now. Modern Korean development generally prefer tall, high density apartment buildings. Often with open space nearby… it is not uncommon to see rice paddies and very large gardens adjacent to giant apartment complexes. Gardens are a huge part of Korean culture and those planter boxes will not be wasted.
    Korea is a high density country and people tolerate less privacy than they do in the sprawling suburbs of say, the US. Additionally, Korea has a strong monoculture. Even though there are dialects and regional differences, there is a strong sense of cultural norm that all people understand and identify with. Again, this is counter to the standards of a deeply multicultural place like California or Singapore. This design looks like it fits the bill for Korea.

  • KarlBob

    Completion by 2011 seems awfully ambitious in the middle of a global recession.

    Architectural renderings are meant to be generic, they show the basic structure that will be customized by the inhabitants. If you rent one of the apartments, you don’t have to keep the walls white. Paint them whatever color you like. The floor-to-ceiling windows can similarly be covered with drapes or blinds.

    The outward-sloping terraces have benefits and problems. If there’s a fire, people in the top floors face a long series of short jumps, rather than one fatal drop. On the other hand, cat burglary becomes much more attractive when breaking into a 10th story apartment doesn’t mean risking your neck.

    Americans talk about not wanting to live with this kind of density, but somebody keeps paying outrageous sums of money for apartments in Manhattan. In the past decade, cities all over the U.S. had high-rise condos springing up downtown. Sure, some of them are empty, but so are plenty of houses right now.

    I for one welcome our anthill overlords. Give me decent sound-proofing and a reasonable degree of fire-protection, and I’m ready to move into an arcology tomorrow. Really, the biggest hardship I see in not having a backyard is not having a dog.



  • thechango

    MVRDV hasnt understood that people tend to appropriate spaces, people like to personalize their homes, and more in developing countries like south korea. How are 70,000+ minds, decoratios, tastes, styles, etc. going to fit in this single-language city?

  • bradley charles

    This is amazing. Now if every country thought to do stuff like this every day there would be nobody starving to death, health science would advance much much faster and soon maybe even in the next hundred years we may find new ways to live longer and better lives. Just imagine what these kind of cities can do for our world and our society.

  • baoan

    This project amazingly reminds me of Zaha Hadid’s projects Galaxy Soho:
    or Wangjin SOHO: