Zoorea – Zoological Garden

Empowering the Infrastructural Green Belt:

What can we do in an isolated place with little infrastructure, few inhabitants, and almost no visitors? We see the potential for green growth in the region – a case study to define a tourist region based on sustainable development only, where natures and structures function in equilibrium, symbiotically feeding one another. The program is a new zoo on a small, relatively undeveloped island off the southwest coast of South Korea, but we see the potential for the project to strategically redefine an entire region.

Geographic Identity:

The island of Dochodo is the missing vertex of an isosceles triangle described by Seoul (first city and business hub of South Korea) and Busan (second city and industrial hub). Located on the southwest coast of Korea, Dochodo’s potential to attract tourism from the surrounding Asian megacities, especially from Shanghai, is clear and compelling.

Three Topographies:

The natural island landscape of peaks and valleys suggests the method for configuring the island’s development. The low, flat land in the center of the island, currently covered with rice fields, is the ideal location for the future zoo. The high mountainous peaks are protected from development and treated as nature preserves. The medium height topography is the area available to build on. We select a datum height of 20 meters, which defines a meandering band across the entire island as our locus and boundary of development. Everything above remains untouched and wild, everything below becomes a controlled nature reserve.

Active Infrastructural Green Belt:

All infrastructure and program (transportation, energy, water, waste treatment, and building systems) are grouped within the development band, creating an “infrastructural green belt.” While the typical green belt passively limits development, the infrastructural green belt actively enhances surrounding ecologies. Transplanted from the city to nature, our green belt acts as sustainable infrastructure, a machine to enhance the ecological health of the surrounding natures.

From “Sustain” to “Ability”:

Towards moving beyond the tired label of ”sustainable design,” and shifting our focus from “sustain” to “ability,” the project adheres to a set of simple design ambitions, the kind of basic principles that hopefully soon will not need to be made explicit.

1) Development: We will minimize the development footprint. We will maximize the density, impact, and beauty of the development that we do propose.

2) Transport: Other than the proposed through-road traffic and service deliveries, all island transport will produce zero carbon.

3) Energy: The island will use only as much energy as it can collect. All energy will be collected from renewable energy sources; solar, wind, wave, and bio-waste. Energy generation will be embedded within the island development, reducing the loss of energy from long distance transmission.

4) Water: Rainwater will be collected and stored for use throughout the development. In the zoo sanctuaries and protected nature preserve areas, the characteristics of the natural pre-development hydrological system will be maintained as much as possible.

5) Waste: Waste will be thought of as the food for other processes. All plant, human, and animal waste will be reused as composted fertilizer or bio-fuel energy.

6) Biodiversity: The development band will act as a kind of active growth boundary, protecting and encouraging the biodiversity of the existing island animal and plant ecologies.

The diverse programs on Dochodo Zoological Island influence and become increasingly dependent on one another; architecture, infrastructure, and landscape integrated into a comprehensive ecology of exchange.

  • Project name: Zoorea – Zoological Garden
  • Location: Dochodo, Jeonnam, South Korea
  • Program: Zoological island
  • Area: Project Size: 43,587,000 m2
  • Client: Commune Of Jeonnam
  • Project by: JDS Architects
  • Team: Team: Julien De Smedt, Heechan Park, Wolfgang Mitterer, Isabella Eriksson, Ryan Neiheiser, Robert Huebser, Francisco Villeda
  • Others: Collaborators: DEMC
  • Text: Courtesy of JDS Architects
  • Images: Courtesy of JDS Architects