Architectural gestures in Oido central pier. 

Artist creative residency June-August 2011 
at Gyeonggi Creation Center, South Korea 

Paraphrasing the interjection from painting “Ohhh...Alright…” (1964) by Roy Lichtenstein, but also as a continuation of existing urban slogans in nearby cities (“Bravo! Ansan” and “Wow! Siheung”) “Oooh….Oido…” is the nick name for this research by design remodeling project. It synopsizes the idea of Oido central pier as more than just a functional fishery place and a seafood market: a public space of enjoyment, sea life pleasure, easy urban escape, fresh taste sensuality.

“Ohhh...Alright…” (1964), Roy Lichtenstein

The project currently being developed during the short term residency in Gyeonggi Creation Center is part of a wider personal artist interest in public spaces and the role of contemporary architecture in understanding and providing new dynamics to them. Here is presented part of this work in progress: from research, spatial analysis, on site artist interaction, to design gestures, providing more possible architectural directions than suggesting a complete and ready to build proposal.

Oido central pier is a very interesting place located in a developing and transforming area.

Located next to the new Sihwa developing recreation area, Daebudo upcoming resort area and Incheon city’s new extension, it is already a destination for visitors from broader Gyeonggi area (vibrant seafood market, the Sunset lighthouse with view to Sihwa Lake and new tide plant area but also Incheon new high rise extension, the low tide mudland access and sea life exploration).

Besides its fragmented and in some point left over today’s character, Oido pier is a very large open space into the sea. The project targets in providing new spatial values that will transform the pier into a new totality, not a combination of diverse elements. It investigates ways to preserve the pier’s two basic qualities (traditional seafood market, small scale fishery activities) and rearrange their relationship in a more fruitful and balanced way. Moreover, through this new design the whole complex should function in a more open and up-to-date way, with the possibility of new public activities to take place (rest and dining area, temporary open air exhibition space, open air market, concerts, festivals, cinema) so that it takes full advantage of its unique character (history, location, environment, food and life activities dialogue). The goal remains to give the opportunity to local people and visitors to enjoy a contemporary public space, with diverse activities and spatial experiences.

As main architectural palette elements we could say that are used: covered public space, containers, net structures and decks. These elements are combined as additions and dialogue to the foundation element of the pier that is not changed, as also to the Lighthouse area. 

Main element of the new design is a roof structure of Γ shape that covers the seafood market. It rests on a network of mesh twisted piles, providing as much as transparency as possible to the structure. 

It is a response to the need of a dynamic element to unify all small scale activities taking part under. But also gives the possibility for flexible use of the space underneath providing shadow and rain proof environment: Oido pier as a large covered public space, not only as a unique place for the visitors but a special spot for local (in a broad way) community as well. 

With references to traditional covered food markets, to net structures used in fishing, twisted and wavy as sea life and tide diagrams so extended in this area, it flows at 9m above the pier. 

Its net structured piles and its wavy net inner roof provide a light and fluid feeling and allow maximized interaction with the sea and sky view. 

Under its safe environment, the sea food small shops can operate as in all traditional Korean food markets, with flexibility to change and reorder. 

But moreover the whole place is regarded as a big covered public space, giving the opportunity for people to enjoy the view, the access to the water, the food, and for more activities to take place. Open air concerts, cinema, exhibitions, market and all kind of events can be combined with the place next to the sea, especially to the one free end of the T pier, of the great size of 30x60m, part of which inclines to reach sea level as a big ramp. 

Another basic element is the container complex located in the other end of the T pier. It is a valuable area for the function of the fishing activities. Today containers are used for storage of equipment for fishing and as small offices, but there is great need of more space. In the new design a complex of containers in different levels, gives the opportunity for more storage, office and living spaces. Containers of the first two levels are used for storage with easy access. Over these, more office and living spaces for the local workers and sellers are placed, in combinations of placement and colors. So there is possibility of view to the sea from all levels and also provide covered spaces to rest and work in shadow. But moreover a changing shape complex is created as another landmark that shows the real size of fish market activities. 

There are more issues to be developed in the second part of the design. Small scale, lighting, pier floor etc. Main change in the low level will be that the shops will be placed at a distance from the edge of the pier end so that there will be free access to the sea view in a free walkway. It is such a paradox that a sea food market today functions as a wall to the view of the sea… 

Special design will be developed on the pier level, with wooden decks extending to free areas, to create small spots for rest, eat or enjoy the view, or larger more dynamic gestures for other public uses. This project is still a research by design of possible new dynamic that could be developed in a very special and vibrant place. It is not only the redesign of a sea food market, but a proposal to rethink on public spaces of small urban areas next to the water, for local people and visitors. Enjoy!

The results have been exhibited during GCC Open Studios August 12-14 2011 at Studio 402 in Gyeonggi Creation Center.