More Water, Less Stones – 
Regenerating Jamsil | Seoul, South Korea | Bil-kul

Jamsil-dong is a neighborhood replete with cultural, historical and ecological value. The advent of the Olympic Park in 1988 marked the neighborhood as well as the city, creating not only world-class sports infrastructure but also symbols of prosperity and global-ness – one of the many heralds of South Korea’s growing global significance.

Our proposal builds upon this rich history by allowing the iconic remnants of the 1988 games, most notably the Olympic Stadium, to retain their iconicity while facilitating their natural evolution and preparing them for the future. To this end, the problem lies not in making iconic form yet more iconic, but in reconstituting the landscape in which these objects sit. ‘Less Stones, More Water’ offers a solution by breaking down the vast and unyielding field of concrete upon which the stadiums sit and reassembling the landscape to allow the site to function as a rich microcosm with its own distinctive ecologies, habitats and architectures while enhancing its presence in the geography of the city and lives of its citizens.

Archipelagos are collections of islands that have deep ecological and cultural connections to one another. Similarly, the Jamsil Sports Complex and its stadiums represent a constellation of islands, each with its distinctive characteristics defined by size and use. The proposal engages the existing architecture and infrastructure tactically by building upon the extensive existing deck to create connections between the stadiums and to the rest of the site. It breaks down all four sides of the site through precisely calibrated landforms that engage with the Northern and Western riverfront and by situating the convention center and new small stadiums on the Southern and Eastern edge of the site.

The existing differentiation of the deck level with the ground level is treated as an opportunity rather than an impediment. We use this vertical separation to decouple the vast spatial needs for assembly in functioning sports venues from the intimate, rich, bio-diverse parkscape that will replace the existing ground while creating new vertical connections between these two ‘levels’ that will offer moments of intersection and contrast. We also propose a large low-profile building that will house a 20,000 sq.m. convention center and a new Aquatic Center on the South-Eastern edge of the site eminently accessible from the myriad residential developments that neighbor the Southern and Eastern sides of the site. Moreover, by ‘submerging’ this building, we create a vast, public plaza at street level — a powerful new civic space for Jamsil-dong and its residents.

Our proposal transforms the Seoul Olympics Park into exactly that – a park. We replace the ground from under the ‘feet’ of the stadiums and create a massive new park that houses world-class sports and convention facilities while at the same time providing a highly adaptable platform for multifarious uses in all seasons for a diverse population of users.

Design Firm | Bil-kul ( 
Collaborators: Swarnabh Ghosh, Craig Rosman and Khyati Saraf
Location | Seoul, South Korea
Images and Text Credits | Swarnabh Ghosh, Khyati Saraf and Craig Rosman

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About Damian Holmes 5671 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at