Samsung C&T’s Engineering and Construction Group won an Outstanding Award in the Cultural and Urban Landscape category at the 2023 IFLA Asia Pacific Region Awards organized by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA). This is the 12th IFLA title (and its first IFLA Outstanding Award) given to Samsung C&T E&C Group since it first picked up two honors in 2008.
Outstanding Awards are given to the best projects in each category. The 2023 Outstanding Award was for Samsung C&T E&C Group’s Nature Gallery landscape gardening project. To learn more about Nature Gallery, Samsung C&T E&C Group’s landscape gardening team, and this prestigious award, interviews were conducted with members of the team at Group headquarters, resulting in this two-part story.
The IFLA and Nature Gallery
Founded in 1948, the IFLA is a representative body of landscape architects around the world, with 77 participating nations. In the landscaping industry, the IFLA annual awards hold great prestige. In 2023, 433 projects were awarded in a total of 10 categories.
One of those categories is Cultural and Urban Landscape, for which Samsung C&T’s Engineering & Construction Group received the Outstanding Award for its Nature Gallery, a landscape garden project completed outside Raemian Gallery in Seoul’s Songpa district.
IFLA award competition entries are assessed on quality of design and execution; design context; design value; environmental sensitivity and sustainability. Nature Gallery’s efforts to carry out sustainable landscaping while retaining the look and feel of “nature as it is” and its role as a public space for city dwellers were highly praised.
Designing Nature Gallery
Nature Gallery was created by the Landscape Group, inside the Residential Business Team within Samsung C&T’s Engineering & Construction Group. To learn more, we visited and interviewed members of the group led by June Yang, who joined Samsung C&T in 1999 and who has plentiful experience both in the field and at headquarters.
Asked about the philosophy behind Nature Gallery, June said they invested a lot to make the space accessible to everyone, especially nearby residents. “There are, therefore, no walls or fences, and we created it with a detailed plan to make it safe and comfortable to be used at night.” he added.
Jeong Jae-dong, who designs landscapes and also led on-site management during construction of Nature Gallery, explained that the starting concept was “original nature,” characterized by a landscape that feels pristine. And Park Sang-hee, a team member of this group, expanded on this by saying, “Nature Gallery focuses on unseen value. If we apply this landscaping to a future apartment complex, it may seem a little unexciting at first, but it’ll become richer with time and look better in harmony with the surrounding nature.”
Jae-dong used one example to explain the landscape architecture of Nature Gallery. In landscaping so far, the green space is usually cut in half by walking paths, but at Nature Gallery, the green spaces are connected by raising the areas where people walk so that they seem to float above the ground.
According to Park Yu-jung, who is in charge of landscape design and product development, Nature Gallery is designed with a long-term vision in mind. She said, “This reflects the fact that designers often focus only on how a landscape looks at the moment of completion, not how it will look 3-5 years later.”
Challenges and obstacles
Designing and constructing a landscape intended to resemble nature is not an easy task. The landscaping team members reminisced about some difficult aspects of creating Nature Gallery. Team leader June explained, “Typically gardens and parks are created artificially and intentionally, we worked hard to make the most of the existing natural landscape, striving to minimize artificial layout and forced composition. Beginning right from the design process, that was one of the most difficult parts, because we were used to old-school landscaping.”
Yu-jung agreed, saying that team members were not yet familiar with this sort of design and experienced some difficulties. She added that very fine adjustments were needed to bring in a natural feel. Describing early concerns, she says, “We wondered whether a forest by itself would be less pretty compared to other landscaping work, whether people would accept it, and whether it could become a landscaping product.”
Continuing this theme of creating a natural-looking forest, Jae-dong adds, “We paid a lot of attention to details such as the arrangement of trees and facilities, and especially tried to plant many trees native to the area. However, in the back of our minds was the concern about whether or not Nature Gallery visitors will be satisfied with the result.”
A forest comprised of native trees is also good for reducing overall carbon emissions. June explains, “In the old model of landscaping, imported flowers and trees are often used. But the logistics of bringing them to the site would end up emitting a lot of carbon.” By using varieties grown domestically, Nature Gallery contributes to bringing down emissions while also harmonizing with nature.
Enhancing cultural and urban life
In the face of these challenges, the dedication of Samsung C&T E&C Group’s landscaping to sustainable and nature-inspired design has not only resulted in winning the Outstanding Award at the 2023 IFLA Asia Pacific Region Awards, but has also set a new standard in the field.
As Nature Gallery stands as a testament to Samsung C&T’s commitment to the enhancement of cultural and urban life, the positive reception from visitors and this prestigious award underscore the team’s success. The second article in this series will explore the response the Nature Gallery project has received and the team’s thoughts on the future of urban landscaping.