The threat of global warming prompted the government of Korea to develop the country’s first national center of ecological research. After selecting a site, the government conducted an international design competition, in which the team of Samoo Architects and Thomas Balsley Associates won first prize. This 189-acre park will combine public and private research facilities, with the “Indoor Ecological Center,” loosely based on England’s Eden Project, as its centerpiece. The park is surrounded on the north, south, and east sides by protected forested hills. A high-speed rail serves as the western boundary. The landscape concept incorporates rice paddy propagation and other habitats indigenous to Korea. Beginning at one wetland and ending at another, an existing irrigation canal is rerouted to form the central circulation corridor. It threads through the entire park, separating agrarian and natural habitats.
The visitor is provided with several options to move through the park. The primary north-south circulation corridor runs parallel to the high speed rail line and operates as an electric “people-mover” system within a forest buffer. This system runs parallel to the parks service drive and service parking and connects with parking fields and the Visitor Center to the south, and the public transit stop at the north pedestrian entrance. Secondary east-west access spines slice through a series of unfolding ecosystems that terminate at interpretive story pavilions, each relating to its surrounding ecology. The landscape framework transitions from a highly structured agrarian landscape on the western edge of the park to a series of striated gardens or cells, each with a specific ecological theme, available to the visitor’s passage towards the east. Winding through the ecological gardens is a tertiary path system allowing for a more intimate wildlife experience for both the novice visitor and experienced researcher. Access to the park’s southeast precinct is restricted to research staff, visiting scientists and scheduled group visits, but is on show as a powerful first impression upon arrival at the Visitor Center.
Westmoor Natural Science & Ecology Park
Westmoor Park is a 168-acre educational and recreational setting where visitors are encouraged to experience the natural world about them with the guidance of interpretive personnel. The park includes four separate areas, one of which is an Administration and Reception area with facilities for drop-off, group orientation, and parking. The Natural Science and E...
Thomas Balsley was selected by the New York Times as the only landscape architect in a cast of world-renowned architects to participate in the NY Times Capsule Design Competition. Mr. Balsley’s submission was selected as a finalist, exhibited, and published in the NY Times Magazine’s final series on the Millennium.
Magok Waterfront Park
As one of the six mega-project sites known as the Han River Renaissance Plan, the city of Seoul Korea is transforming the 300-acre Magok site of ex-urban sprawl and marginally productive agricultural land into a new major metropolitan park thematically focusing on history and nature. With over 300 entries worldwide Thomas Balsley Associates, in collaboration w...
Cornerstone Garden Festival Selected Entry
The deep forest is nature’s supreme garden, sacred ground filled with the sights and sounds of life. Our native forests have been the sites of a 200-year-old clearing party whose hangover is still being felt. Very few of us have witnessed these sites to sense the magnitude of their destruction or their rebirth as represented by masses of seedlings, in a strugg...