Axel Braun - work and projects

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE IN A PLACE WHERE DREAMS BECOME REALITY (2012-13)

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View from Daebu island to Ansan on the other side of lake Si-Hwa

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NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE IN A PLACE WHERE DREAMS BECOME REALITY

is a case study for DISTURBED HARMONIES [Anthropocene Landscapes]

On the South Korean peninsula, further expansion of urban areas is restricted by geological conditions. Large-scale land-reclamation activities along the Western coast are the consequence, especially in the agglomeration around Seoul. Many former islands and bays have become part of the mainland during the last decades. The island Daebudo in Gyeonggi Bay, for example, was connected to the mainland by a twelve-kilometer-long dam in 1994.

The aim was to turn the dammed saltwater bay into a freshwater reservoir and to facilitate land reclamation along the shores, a scheme comparable to the Ijsselmeer in The Netherlands. Because of insufficient purification facilities in a densely populated region, the endeavor soon became an ecologic disaster. Opening the dam to have the polluted Si-Hwa Lake washed out by the tides, appeared as the only solution. Eventually the dam and the bay became the world’s largest tidal power plant, in order to lead the infrastructure back to profit and reputation.

On the other side of the bay, the planned city New Songdo was established on a land-reclamation site that allegedly replaced a bird sanctuary. Nevertheless, architects and investors advertised the future free-trade zone as particularly sustainable: because of smart technologies, New Songdo City will have 30 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than a conventional city of its size.

In 2012, the construction works were delayed and those parts that were already completed resembled a ghost town. The global financial crisis had left clear marks on a site promoted as the future business hub for Northeast Asia. One of the few assets already in operation was the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club course suitable for international tournaments. Once the anticipated growth returns, New Songdo is well prepared: numerous plots for further constructions are available, idly awaiting their future purposes in a rectangular grid of unfinished streets.

The project was realised in the framework of an artist-in-residence programme at Gyeonggi Creation Center on Daebu island in South Korea.

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