From Mirage City to Taekwondo Park

From Mirage City to Taekwondo Park

Recently I read about Mirage City, a 21st-century Utopia directed by Arata Isozaki, unbuilt but exhibited in 1997. Sited on an artificial island in the South China Sea, the project eschews a master plan in favor of public and professional participation that influences the form of the alternative Utopia. Two of the fifty invited architects on the professional end were Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, who further questioned Utopia by «infest[ing] the plan with drugs, gambling, piracy, and prostitution — every undesirable (or dystopian) activity conceivable, suitably built on the underside of the original model.

[Mirage City plan by Arata Isozaki | image source (PDF link)]

To glean more information on Diller + Scofidio’s interesting proposal, I ventured to their newly redesigned web page (designed by Pentagram) to browse through the numerous projects to find Mirage City. Alas, nothing was to be found, but in the masterplan category I did come across a project I’d yet to see: Taekwondo Park, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s entry to an invited competition for the Taekwondo World Heritage Cultural Center in Muju, Korea.

[Aerial rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

According to DS+R’s project description, «the buildings and outdoor program spaces are connected organically within valleys and along ridges balancing and blurring the distinctions between nature and culture.»

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

The «new architectural interventions grow out of the topography: spanning, terracing, burrowing into, and wrapping existing landscape features to provide spaces for building programs,» which include «facilities for tourists, Taekwondo students, Taekwondo professionals and Federation administrators.»
[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

The renderings show this variety of maneuvers and the unique relationships of the architecture to the landscape. An arena for taekwondo is contained in a building that bridges a valley, while also providing a rooftop promenade.

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

Another building follows the rolling landscape to «complete it»…

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

…while another area creates a new folding topography…

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

…another area creates a sort of artificial waterfall…

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

… and another provides what appear to like meditative lookouts along a hiking path through the Muju Mountains:

[Rendering of Taekwondo Park | image source]

Designed with Hargreaves Associates, the ambitious design moves from high to low (right to left, per the below diagram), adapting each function to the circumstances of the immediate site. It’s a far cry from the concept of their Mirage City contribution. The «underside» of life has given way to a glossy optimism of nature and culture co-existing peacefully.
[Diagram of Taekwondo Park | image source]

Alas, Diller Scofidio + Renfro did not win the Taekwondo Park competition. The winner, announced on August 28, is New York’s Weiss/Manfredi:

[Winning scheme by Weiss/Manfredi | image source]

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