How can we encroach on nature and still preserve it when the act of building contracts the idea of protecting the environment? Even with the most environmentally friendly buildings, there will always be some sort of negative impact because something exists where nothing used to be. As our need to grow and expand becomes more predominant it’s more important than ever to ask the question- just because I can build something, should I?

© Gansam Architects and Associates

The Suncheon International Wetlands Center was designed with the intention to host visitors coming to admire the worlds fifth largest tidal flat while leading them through the wetlands to the Suncheon Bay. The receding tidewater imprints influenced the concept and fluid shape of the buildings and walkways. The circulation promotes the sense of wondering while providing a sensual picturesque experience for visitors, allowing them to see both the wetlands and the forest on the opposite side. Recesses were also introduced into the pathways in order for people to see how the wetlands extend underneath the structure supported by stilts. The waves and levels created in the landscape by the pathways and buildings enhance the natural change in topography from the wetland to the forest, providing an area where the two can meet.

© Gansam Architects and Associates

Sustainable architectural practices are introduced into the different building functions by separating them and using different envelopes to maintain more control over the energy use. The design also plans for a green roof and a wooden façade intended to integrate the structure into the environment while utilizing passive strategies to minimize the amount of light entering the building in the summer and increasing winter lighting. In the end this building hopes to reconnect visitors to nature, but it makes me wonder if building on the wetlands is the best way to promote wetland preservation. Even though the structure is raised on stilts, there will still be shade casted on the ecosystem underneath of it and only time would tell what sort of impact it would make.

© Gansam Architects and Associates

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