Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Urban Planning and Redevelopment
This multi-dimensional urban design concept and architectural/land-use plan envisions a compact, sustainable “third-generation city” with transit connections to Seoul, Korea.

In the summer of 2020, Heerim Architects invited D/O Architects to join its consortium as the international partner charged with creating a conceptual design for a third-generation city —or “New Town”—that specifically addresses issues such as population growth, density, and transit-oriented development. The 850-acre site for this city is located near Gimpo Airport on the outskirts of Seoul, Korea.

D/O Architects’ design for “Layered City” features connections to Seoul’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system and transportation infrastructure, a diverse mix of residential, commercial, cultural and public buildings, and ample opportunities for residents, workers and visitors to connect with nature and each other.  

Located in Bucheon within the Gyeonggi Province, Layered City emerges as a vibrant, sustainable, modern village by preserving and enhancing the natural features of its landscape while recalling and reinterpreting the agrarian activities that have left their traces on the earth.
Multi-dimensional urban design
Compact, sustainable “third-generation city”
The four concepts layered on top of each other to create Layered City are: the memory of the field, which is where people historically lived and worked; the capillary stream, a branch of the Han River that brought life-generating water to irrigate the fields for rice cultivation; the human-scale and slow-pace of farming in this area, and the futuristic vision of a city that draws upon these memories to bring natural beauty and an unhurried flow of life into the planning and design of the built environment.
The existing agricultural grid pattern and canals, a Super Spine and three distinct districts form the land-use framework for Layered City. The first district is zoned for innovation and industrial businesses. The main entrance to Layered City and primary transit station are located here. A cultural district with arts facilities, a government center, and a spacious waterfront park occupies the city’s center. The third district provides facilities for knowledge-based, research and development work. Residential units for 48,000 people are interspersed throughout all three districts, with mixed-use buildings lining the parkland, waterway and transportation corridor of the Super Spine. There are BRT stations in each district, too.
Layered City is laid out along a Super Spine with high-speed vehicular traffic, dedicated bus-transit lanes, BRT stations, parking spaces and loading docks located one level below grade (B1). High-speed, pass-through traffic is routed through a tunnel two levels below grade (B2). Low-speed traffic circulates above ground. During the day, sunlight streams into the subterranean BRT stations. Water features at and below grade provide people ascending toward the ground level with views of water and sunlight.
A canopy composed of solar panels ripples along the full length of the Super Spine, gathering sunlight that is transformed into electrical power to serve buildings throughout Layered City. Rainwater is also collected along the Super Spine and sent to a cistern for filtering, then into canals along the streets and on to a wetland system for further purification before being discharged into the river. Green roofs serve a similar function by capturing and reusing rainwater within the buildings that have this sustainable amenity.
Biking, canoeing, skateboarding, walking and picnicking are just some of the many recreational activities that residents, workers, and visitors can enjoy along the Super Spine and the two green axes that run perpendicular to it.
View of the Green Axis park and waterway on the west side of the Cultural District. Water that was originally brought to the land for irrigation now travels to and through Layered City for recreation and enjoyment.
The agricultural history and urban context of Layered City’s location influence its planning and design. Existing transit connections to nearby Gimpo Airport facilitated extension of the BRT public transportation system. Preserving a portion of the agrarian land within the Greenbelt makes unobstructed views of the Seoul skyline possible. Due to flight patterns for the airport, building height is limited to ten stories.
Energy and activity course along and radiate outward from the Super Spine, which runs horizontally across Layered City, connecting all three districts. Low-speed vehicular traffic shares the street with bikers and a solar canopy collects sunlight while accentuating this major urban design element. Walking paths, plazas, parks and water features encourage people to connect and gather outdoors.

The first step for implementing the Layered City Urban Design Concept entails constructing a pilot project within the Cultural District. This “First Village” includes multi-unit residential structures (in the foreground) and mixed-use commercial buildings (along the Super Spine) with parks and waterways providing open space and ample opportunities for people to connect with each other.
Water flows into and through each super block providing contemplative, recreational and social opportunities for people who live and work in the surrounding buildings. Additional green space is provided atop buildings. Enclosed skybridges connect the roofs and office areas of structures around the first BRT station to provide a circulation path for people between buildings while preserving open space at the ground level.
The urban design concept and architectural/land-use plan for Layered City honor and integrate the agricultural heritage of the site, the generative role and natural beauty of water flowing through the landscape, and the blue-sky vision for a compact, sustainable, modern city where people can live, work and play.