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I LOVE STREET folly in Gwangju, Korea, a pedestrian street by MVRDV realised with school kids

I LOVE STREET folly in Gwangju, Korea, a pedestrian street by MVRDV realised with school kids

MVRDV realised I LOVE STREET in collaboration with students of the Seosuk Elementary School as one of the third edition of the Gwangju Folly. The 960m2 permanent intervention explores how architecture contributes to urban regeneration by playing both decorative and functional roles in public spaces. The project was conceived in a participatory process.

 Gwangju is known for its industrial qualities. A city with a booming car industry situated between beautiful surroundings of cherry blossoms and nature, but in recent years has become dominated by cars and lacks many pedestrianised zones, especially in its old part of town. From 2011, Gwangju follies located all across the city are designed to achieve urban regeneration by providing a cultural rebirth to its downtown area after 40 years of rapid industrial growth. These interventions are a step in refocusing attention on abandoned areas of the city with the potential to transform them into more livable and pleasant areas as they develop in time.

“With this new street, we show that follies can make sense and that they can embody larger planning issues. That they can test directions and communicate that to a wider audience,” says Winy Maas, MVRDV co-founder

MVRDV analysed the previous follies so far and how these urban interventions could further improve the urban realm of Gwangju. A certain lack of peoples' involvement with the folly’s and limited public space in the city influenced the design of MVRDV’s contribution to the folly tradition. The I LOVE STREET Folly is designed as part of participatory social design process informed by residents of the neighbourhood opposed to yet another street turned into a car-only zone. The project was developed in collaboration with students of Seosuk Elementary School, who contributed with drawings that expressed wishes that their street would be made of grass, fountain, sand, wood, a trampoline and a big chalkboard. MVRDV added stairs to this collection all forming a pedestrian area of multiple pavements that can be used for sitting, painting, jumping and playing. The chalkboard is a constantly changing surface activated by continual use, whilst the stairs which act as a tribune that presents the perfect viewing point of activities and indeed, selfie spot for the street.

By shaping these pavements in a series of letters that spell the word L-O-V-E, a text appears as a symbolic representation of people’s love for many things located in a square for everyone’s use that can be adapted and painted in the future as a canvas. This tribute to the city becomes a street for encounters whilst re-introducing the urban village history of its location on Dongmyeong-ro Road, which made way for cars due to urbanization. In a sense, the folly acts as a commemoration to these former domestic buildings and returning it to a car-free area. 

“I LOVE Gwangju Folly can become so many things - I LOVE Korea, I LOVE Gwangju, I LOVE Walking or I LOVE Dancing”, says Maas, “The folly is a small intervention to make the city more sociable, fun and attractive, but more importantly, as a direct communication to further develop collective enthusiasm for more pedestrian spaces in Gwangju.’’

The Gwangju Folly Festival is now in its third edition and has resulted in a city-wide collection of 100 follies designed by artists and architects such as Peter Eisenmann, David Adjaye and Rem Koolhaas. MVRDV realized the folly with the participation of kids from Seosuk Elementary School and Gongjeong Construction co.

The opening event takes place on 30th November 2017.