reimagining apgujeong as a vibrant ecological tapestry


At the 4th Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2023, RIOS presents a 100-year masterplan focusing on fostering hyperabundance and growth for Apgujeong in Seoul. Through an ecologically and socially rich architectural framework, the Hyper-Abundant City plan reimagines the future of the neighbourhood as a vibrant ecological tapestry that embraces the Han River and the historic flows of the landscape. By pulling the existing fabric of the adjacent Gangnam neighborhood into the site and extending the connection into the river, the concept builds new horizontal and vertical urban sections while introducing biodiversity at every slope, terrace, and facade.

RIOS' 100-year 'hyper-abundant city plan' for seoul fosters urban and ecological growth
Hyper-Abundant City 100-year masterplan by RIOS for SBAU 2023 | all renders by Aesthetica Studio



rios preserves natural systems along the river han


The concept will open up what was once a barrier to river access and views. Architecture and design collective RIOS proposes the cultivation of ecological plots to allow for gradual evolution over time, culminating in vertical villages reminiscent of traditional Hanok architecture. These developments foster a deeper sense of community and harmony with nature.


In response to urban flooding, the Hyper-Abundant City reintroduces the dynamics of shoreline islands that will promote habitat, water filtration, dissipation, and absorption of intense storm events. The concept looks to introduce natural and social forces external to the historic edges and open the land to receive water, reducing runoff into urban storm systems while retaining specific amounts of water to be slowly released once the storm surge has passed. Along the Han River’s edge, known as the Wild Waterfront, emphasis is placed on preserving natural systems, minimizing human activity to select access points to allow the land to be reclaimed by nature undisturbed. Within the internal site floodway, community spaces merge with areas dedicated to stormwater retention, functioning as spaces for both public use and the long-term well-being of the city.

RIOS' 100-year 'hyper-abundant city plan' for seoul fosters urban and ecological growth
vertical Hanok villages



an ever evolving social, ecological, and urban plan 


Katherine Harvey, Creative Director, Partner, and Landscape Architect at RIOS highlighted the evolving context of Apgujeong, stating: ‘Apgujeong has stood as a symbol of Korea’s rapid economic development and accumulation of wealth for the last decades. Although it’s become a thriving destination, as the city of Seoul prepares for a future with extreme weather events, population decline, and strains on resources, we see an opportunity to rethink the framework of the neighborhood, one that focuses on trading traditional, defensive infrastructure for biological systems that are adaptive and cumulative. This new urbanism will embrace dynamic weather while rewinding the ground with floodplain, valleys, and upland mounds as a base for buildings, structures, and infrastructure with a deepened connection to the landscape.’


‘When designing districts, we look to the local fabric to celebrate the identity of a place and to bring joy and wellness into the design of the built environment. For the future of Apgujeong, we recognize the value in blurring the boundaries between land and water, landscape and architecture, city and building to introduce an abundance that does not exist when each element is restricted to its category, typology, land use or singular function,’ Harvey continues.

RIOS' 100-year 'hyper-abundant city plan' for seoul fosters urban and ecological growth
the concept introduces biodiversity at every slope, terrace, and facade

an ecologically and socially rich architectural framework
Apgujeong Waterfront

an ecologically and socially rich architectural framework
site chronology | drawing by RIOS



project info:


name: Hyper-Abundant City

designer: RIOS

design team: Katherine Harvey, Simone Lapenta, Robin Kim, Eunil Cho, Christine Chang, Erin Gehle, Bob Frederick, Byron Wong, Anthony Nitche, Andy Magner, Taek Kim, Em Gan, William Maya, Ryan Vasquez, Jason Shinoda, Zilan Wang, Christopher Becerra, James Chung
location: Seoul, South Korea

program: Seoul Architecture and Urbanism Biennale 2023 | @seoulbiennale



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edited by: ravail khan | designboom