[LAB NOTE] Liquid city to cope with change


The city is in constant moves. Cars and people move between buildings, and the infrastructure such as water supply system and electricity run underground. Nevertheless, a city is just a huge, static object to people. Architect Sangwoo Lim suggests a new urban system, ‘Liquid City’, where elements of the city move organically and respond to future changes more flexibly.


LAB NOTE Summary: The limits of the fixed city
The time is buried under the city. It is completely stacked from relics to the infrastructure such as water and sewage facilities and communication equipment. For a new building, the old building must be destroyed, and the underlying infrastructure must be protected. These constraints make cities increasingly rigid. It is getting difficult for the fixed city to respond flexibly to new technological developments. Architect Sangwoo Lim believes that the city will be more flexible if mobility and architecture are linked together. We look forward to the city where eco-friendly systems are built that move through potential energy by gravity and reflect nature such as wind, water and sunlight, and new mobility suitable for this system.
Architect Sangwoo Lim named the ideal city system ‘Liquid City’ and introduced a new urban concept through animation. The abstract image of sketches by hand and Sangwoo Lim’s voice harmonize to explain the concept of a Liquidity city. Rather than the megacity of the grim future seen in sci-fi movies, 〈Liquid City〉is a fluid system that responds to people and nature and proposes a new urban mobility system.


Liquid City
The new urban system created by links between natural energy and changeable mobility


“The existing urban planning was created based on the aesthetics of the age of vehicles and machines under the western civilization. Also, we cannot plan anew of a whole city, and a city is built in a way that existing infrastructures are stacked. Therefore, the city is not an object, but a system.”

 There are many alleyways in Gangbuk. In other words, it is not the planned city, but the city created as roads by the footsteps of people.  It is the city for people walking (pedestrians). On the other hand, Gangnam is a well-planned city made by dividing districts into blocks. A city block with a size of 900m x 900m is distinguished as a front road including both sidewalks and roads. When entering the alleyway inside the block, vehicles and people are cluttered and pass by looking at each other. The city is still designed around machines, for example, cars. The convenience of transportation takes priority over the pedestrians, and the city is designed to easily supply electricity and water. The flexibility of efficiency-oriented city planning is inevitably inferior to that of a people-oriented city.


“Wouldn’t it be possible to create a new model city with future mobility based on oriental thinking in our city? What if it was a city full of people with lyrical senses and emotions along with nature?”

Architect Sangwoo Lim imagines a pleasant future. What if there were rails running between buildings like the monorail in an amusement park? What about utilizing the wind blowing through buildings as an energy resource? Wouldn’t it be possible to slide and move by using the height of the land, just like riding a sled on a local hill? Liquid City is an attempt to find things that can be utilized by connecting the elements of the city. The city equipped with a natural system becomes flexible and changeable. The city with a ‘natural’ system can offer people new ways to move. And it is also lyrical.


“To lyrically express a new system in a Liquid City and share the message of a circulating future city that is spiritually sensual and based on oriental ideology”


“The western way of thinking is based on rising linear values. The city built on accumulated rational thoughts is based on the western ideal city. The value of nature that circulates in an oriental way does not belong to the past. The value of this cycle tells us a lot. The industrial base created together becomes an idea that can draw the future of the city. The evolution of technology does not guarantee a bright future. Shouldn’t it be built on the basis of a spiritual and oriental future city that awakens our senses through our old future?”

The name of Gosan Seondo Yun’s old house is ‘Nokudang (綠雨堂)’. It contains the meaning of ‘a house where the blue rain falls’. There is a precedent that the name of the house was derived from green leaves that fall like rain from the old ginkgo tree in front of the house. Damyang ‘Sikyeongjeong (息影亭)’ Pavilion is famous for where Songgang Jeong Cheol sang <Seongsanbyeolgok>, and has the meaning of ‘a pavilion where shadows rest’. The old buildings of Korea were built to harmonize with nature, and the meaning was put into the name. The reason why Liquid City is drawn flowing like lyrical sketches by hand and the words of Sangwoo Lim is because of the hope for the city and nature to coexist.


Research and philosophical setting for urban planning
Creation of ideas and stories for future cities
-The beginning based on ‘a square where the wind blows’ and thoughts
-Sketch Mockup = Sharing sensory stories through sketches by hand
-Video production of the block system story along with mobility and nature 

Architecture is the greatest thing human beings can make. People often look at buildings rather than touch them. There is no need to round the corners as it stimulates the visual rather than the sense of touch. Another reason for the square shape of the building is for clarity. A round building like DDP by Zaha Hadid deceives the human eyes. It creates an illusion of looking larger for close objects and looking smaller for far away objects. The way to fully convey Sangwoo Lim’s Liquid City may not be the way of delivering a clear result. Sangwoo Lim expressed Liquid City with animations of abstract images instead of shapes or models. It is expressed as a process of thinking about the city instead of the result.


About the Artist
Sangwoo Lim graduated from Kyunghee University with a Bachelor of Architecture, started his career and worked quite of years at Junglim Architecture’s residential design department and design room, and worked as head of the design team at Coma Architecture, and now working as a Korean architect (KIRA). In 2013, he also worked at Atelier Zündel Cristea in Paris, France from the 10th Jean Prouve – Kim Jung-Up Scholarship, known as an architect invited by the French government. In 2016, he established the architectural content design group, limsangwoo.com and is engaged in the integrated city, architecture, space, and visual design activities of the architectural office studio limsangwoo.com, limsangwoo.planning, and limsangwoo.making. Besides architecture, he has worked and won awards in various fields such as city, space, product, public art, and public design. Now, he is working on ‘날씨의멋지음(Nicely built with the weather)’ the aesthetics of east Asia. In 2017, he was selected as one of Citypreneurs, the entrepreneurs to solve urban problems selected by the Seoul City and the United Nations (UN). In 2018, his company was registered as a design specialized company hosted by the Korea Institute of Design Promotion. His major works include TERU Restaurant, LATTE RESIDENCE, and the neighborhood living facility in Samseong-dong, FRAME.