Explorer, Mapo Oil reserve base, Seoul ©2013
Open design competition
Client: The Public Development Center, Seoul Metropolitan Government
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with A.O. Marquino, K. Szóstkiewicz, F. Virgillito, G. Zaffini


…a live lab for smart cities

‘Awareness of added values through synergic cycles makes smart cities’

The Mapo Oil Reserve Base is a relic of the industrial era. It was an important facility built in 1976 to store oil for the country for emergency reasons. Five storage tanks were buried in order to manage oil reserves. During the construction of the 2002 World Cup Stadium at close range, the oil reserve needed to be moved. This competition is the first step to change the reserve, located in Sangam, an area of regeneration for nature and citizens. Once an abandoned mountain of waste, it now could lead the future of Seoul.

In our approach the Mapo Oil Reserve Base can be transformed into a global Explorer to test strategies that make smart cities.
How do synergic cycles (of energy, food, health, social media, research, governance and finance) make smart cities? If we close and interconnect these cycles in the right ways, they will support and feed one another and we will be able to create carrier systems for smart cities. The project will have a globally unique urgency if it tests and displays the most complete smart city system known today. Smart cities are functioning and supported by interconnected cycles of materials, energy, learning and human behavior.

In Explorer we have grouped six cycles; five will occupy the tanks and the sixth is entry-foyer as a new stretched ‘wing’ in front, connecting all. Tank 1 = health, Tank 2 = food, Tank 3 = energy, Tank 4 = social media, Tank 5 = research, Wing = foyer + governance + finance.

Our proposal is a scaled, operational test site to study smart city systems. The project EXPLORER is a fundamental scientific research lab:
01. It focuses on the main parameters of smart cities,
02. It encourages people to explore and learn the importance of smart cities
03. It explores smart city cycles through scaled testing(1:200) of 21 cyclic processes,
04. It happens in a live lab on a smart plant,
05. It operates for the next generations,
06. It is based upon open data,
07. Its process is exploration + experimentation + evaluation + co-creation + implementation + sharing,
08. It is monitored through surveys of interdisciplinary teams of Universities, market and politics,
09. It feeds discussion & communication between people + governance + science,
10. It creates added values for sound and healthy future life,
11. Its 21 components are: ENERGY with 1. energy, 2. production, 3. distribution, 4. logistics, 5. safety. FOOD with 6. food, 7. waste, 8. compost, 9. marketing. HEALTH with 10. health, 11. lifestyle, 12. mindset, 13. interactions, 14. legislation. SOCIAL MEDIA with 15. social media, 16. experimental learning. RESEARCH with 17. research, 18. creativity, 19. education. GOVERNANCE with 20. governance. FINANCE with 21. finance.

By removing soil at the front base of the tanks, Explorer can be embedded. The tanks are exposed and have entries and little plazas in front. The retaining walls, plaza’s and path are made of concrete. The cycles are scaled (approximately 1:200) and realistic, they process real materials and real data. It is a live lab, with testing and monitoring by students of Seoul National -, Hanyang -, Korea -, Yonsei – Universities and other involved stakeholders. At the same time it is a living expo, with teaching, learning and visitor facilities. Materials, processes, students and visitors are bundled together and follow the same paths. The lay-out of Explorer adapts to the morphology of the hill and the landscape. The wing with attached pavilions are made of sustainable materials, wood harvested from the site and glass. Specific use of materials and detailing will give the wing embedded qualities: 1. the glass facade covers both complete sides and can visually reflect the natural environment of the site and 2. the roof is covered with vegetation and is connected to the ecosystem of the hill.