A department store terrace in South Korea has become the surprising site of a magical garden for children. Tucked away on top of the 12-story building in the city of Uijeongbu, the secret park was designed in an elaborate collaboration between Olson Kundig Architects, the department store Shinsegae, and Korean artist Do-Ho Suh. Together they came up with the concept of a secret garden inspired by Korean tapestries. They transformed the open-air space into a play area and cultural center for local residents with the idea that it could set the tone for future public rooftop parks.
Housed within the terrace are a diverse array of quirky and entertaining spaces, such as a tree house in the form of a cozy bird’s nest. The design incorporates a sandbox for kids to play out their wildest archeology ambitions, digging around for fossils like Indiana Jones! The playground’s rippling contours also create interactive and fun spaces for kids to move around.
These outdoor areas also incorporate a maze garden, mist room and an elephant fountain. In the midst of these intriguing sites, a series of animal sculptures – such as an antelope and an ostrich – punctuate the space. Suh came up with this subtle mechanical series by hand carving and staining sections of wood and found metal to shape a walkway of discovery.
The primary reason for choosing this site is that the city of Uijeongbu is largely concrete, with few clean and safe places where children could play carefree. As the Shinsegae department store is home to several public amenities – a movie theater, cultural education center and subway station – the rooftop park has become an essential extension of its use. The team used local plants and foliage to work lush greenery into the fabric of the design, creating a stunning space that hopes to inspire other rooftop transformations.
Images via Olson Kundig Architects