ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023

ico migliore and politecnico di milano at seoul biennale 2023 


From early September until the end of October 2023, Italian studio Migliore+Servetto will be present in South Korea to mark several events. The first of these is the fourth edition of the Seoul Biennale, to which Ico Migliore, a professor at the Politecnico di Milano, has been invited to showcase his students’ projects in an exhibition titled FUTURABILITY: Timeless Utopias for Seoul.


First launched in 2017, the Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale addresses urban and architecture-related challenges resulting from rapid urban growth in one of the most densely populated cities. Since its inauguration, the theme has been pivotal in reinstating Seoul as a human-centered and eco-friendly city. Five sections make up the program: a Thematic Exhibition featuring each edition’s key theme; a Cities Exhibition inviting leading international public projects; On-site Project, which engages with Seoul’s most present issues, and Global Studios and educational programs, which establish discussions where global and domestic experts, public institutions and citizens alike can participate in drawing up a common future for Seoul. The 4th edition will expand on the ongoing discussions from past themes —Imminent Commons, Collective City, and Resilient City—with a focus on Land Urbanism and Seoul.

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023
BACK TO NATURE by Ala Zhyvulka, Alice Bazzucco, Giuseppe Addati, and Lorenzo Sardella



futurability: timeless utopias for seoul 


From September 1 to October 29, 2023, FUTURABILITY: Timeless Utopias for Seoul is spotlighting student projects from the New Interiors 2 Laboratory Course led by Ico Migliore (see more here) at Politecnico di Milano. Part of the Interior and Spatial Design Master’s Degree, the course project invited students to reflect on the Seoul Biennale 2023 theme: envisioning the city in 100 years as a green and sustainable utopia able to reconnect the urban fabric and its inhabitants with nature.


The outcome consists of ten futuristic design scenarios for ‘inhabited bridges’ that cross Seoul’s Han River. These projects are selected from 40 international university submissions, including the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, Pratt Institute in New York, Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and Aalto University in Helsinki. All ten are exhibited in the Biennale’s academic section, with two among the 12 winners of the final selection displayed in detail with drawings, renders, sketches, elaborate videos, and a 3D printed model. The two proposals focus on the synergy between humans, architecture, and nature, proposing solutions and architectures that, as Ico Migliore stated, ‘are spaces in motion and balance, constantly undergoing metamorphosis. Living organisms in dialogue with humans, artificial intelligence, and nature.’

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023
BACK TO NATURE by Ala Zhyvulka, Alice Bazzucco, Giuseppe Addati, and Lorenzo Sardella



back to nature 


The first winning proposal, BACK TO NATURE, is a collaborative project between students Ala Zhyvulka, Alice Bazzucco, Giuseppe Addati, and Lorenzo Sardella. Here, the Han River bridge unfolds as a skeletal architecture composed of 13 dodecahedron-shaped modules joined via magnetic fields, allowing the bridge to float on the river. Three of these modules host the main activities and represent the three stages of food production. The first stage, Growing, hosts a vertical garden for fruit and vegetable cultivation. ‘Here, people are involved in growing the garden, becoming aware of the process and able to collect fresh food which will be consumed in the second stage, writes the group. That being said, the Distribution and Consumption stage includes a market where dishes are prepared with fresh food and distributed through portholes in the walls, as well as a food hall where people can gather to eat and socialize. In the third stage, Upcycling, all discarded or uneaten food is collected and recycled in a transparent sphere.


Inside the remaining ten modules, a central core made of tubular structures joins the internal vertices. Each is made of porous, bio-based material sourced from recycled food and allows, over time, the bridge’s expansion and colonization of nature along its skeleton. ‘The path is formed by the intertwining of nature that grows continuously on the tubular structures. The access to the bridge is emphasized by the presence of three pentagonal-shaped squares, representing meeting areas for people,’ concludes the team. 

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023
BACK TO NATURE by Ala Zhyvulka, Alice Bazzucco, Giuseppe Addati, and Lorenzo Sardella



the breathing bridge 


Meanwhile, THE BREATHING BRIDGE at the Seoul Biennale 2023 exhibition reveals a second modular structure by Wanqing Yue, Veronica Piunti, Wen Wen Liu, and Yue Zhao. Conceptualized as an organic living being that can keep, process, and transform the source energy of the city and its beings, this bridge proposal gradually adapts to the environment by mimicking the natural act of breathing. ‘Through the bridge, the citizens inhale Seoul’s mountains, hills, and water. This energy is held to be processed and transformed through relaxing activities on the bridge. The exhalation of the ‘Gi’ connects with nature to provide new energy and air,’ share the students.


Responding to that concept, the bridge is designed to expand in number of components over the tears. Prior to expansion, the structure holds two floors with interior galleries and four different modules, each serving a function; these modules combine through joints to either float or sit on land. The shapes and curves of the components and the overall landscape draw inspiration from the nature of South Korea, from mountains to hills and lakes; this configuration invites people to perform free body movements — climb the hills, cycle, and even camp. Other programs include festivals, entertainment performances, and hologram shows. In the interior galleries, one can relax in a filtered and clean environment, socialize, watch shows, and play hologram games.

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023
THE BREATHING BRIDGE by Wanqing Yue, Veronica Piunti, Wen Wen Liu, and Yue Zhao



The membrane forming the modules is a multi-layered, bio-engineered skin, each of its layers able to filter specific polluting agents and sun rays, holding the heat to release it at night. The membrane also boasts mechanical properties thanks to its nerve-like layer that shrinks and expands to connect. ‘The expansion of the skin happens when the weather and atmosphere is unhealthy, with high temperatures or polluting agents in the air, registered by sensors on the skin,’ notes the group. 

ico migliore (migliore+servetto) presents timeless utopias at seoul biennale 2023
THE BREATHING BRIDGE by Wanqing Yue, Veronica Piunti, Wen Wen Liu, and Yue Zhao



Migliore+Servetto marks its presence in several seoul events 


Migliore+Servetto will also join the KIA Convention & Exhibition 2023, organized by the South Korean Institute of Architects and running between October 25-29, 2023. Coinciding with the closing week of the Seoul Biennale 2023, this second event focuses on the evolution of urban architecture. For that, the studio has been invited by Chun Eui Young (Korean architect and President of KIA and FIKA) to set up an exhibition space inside the Seoul Culture Station 284 to explore future perspectives of cities based on the concept of Cultural Seeds. ‘The studio has been working on the concept of ‘Cultural Seeds’ for several years, which has resulted in various publications exploring the role of cultural spaces within cities as ‘seeds’ that activate urban fabric, capable of generating opportunities and giving rise to a broad and dynamic system of cultural sharing. These are tools with a wide-reaching impact and ‘slow-release’ effects, capable of provoking long-term evolution in the territory and its inhabitants,’ writes the team. 


Lastly, between October 26 and October 28, 2023, and delving further into this theme, Migliore+Servetto will be the protagonist of a third event at High Street Italy —  a multifunctional space managed by the Italian ICE Office to promote ‘Made in Italy’ design in South Korea. On that occasion, the studio will create an installation accompanied by a special performance; it will even participate in an international conference on the development of Italian-Korean synergies in recent years. 



Waterfront door/ Into the ocean intervention by M+S in South Korea | image © JUNLEEPHOTOS


image © Jae Young Park


projects info:


architecture studio: Migliore+Servetto | @miglioreservetto

location: Seoul, South Korea


— Biennale exhibition — 

name: FUTURABILITY – Timeless Utopias for Seoul

program: Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale 2023 | @seoulbiennale

participating university: Politecnico di Milano 

PoliMi course: New Interiors 2 Laboratory

professors: Ico Migliore, Paolo Giacomazzi, Rossella Forioli, Viola Incerti 

running dates: September 1 – October 29, 2023 


— second event — 

name: Kia Convention & Exhibition 2023 

organized by: South Korean Institute of Architects 

running dates: October 25-29, 2023


–third event– 

location: High Street Italy, Seoul

organized by: ICE Italia 

running dates: October 26-28, 2023 

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