Sounds of nature

The multi-level artificial island was inspired by soundwaves.

World-renowned architecture studio Heatherwick Studio, headed by Design Indaba alum and the designer of the Zeitz MOCAA Thomas Heatherwick, has won a global competition for its design of a sound-inspired public park.


The project, titled Soundscape, transforms Nodeul Island – an artificial island on the Han River in the centre of Seoul – into a trail of dramatic spaces on different levels that can host musical performances and artistic interventions in a beautiful, biodiverse landscape. The design, chosen as the winning project following a year-long series of exhibitions, consultations, and a public vote, draws inspiration from Seoul’s mountainous terrain and the patterns created by soundwaves.


‘In this hyper-digital age, we’ve had so many amazing innovations in the way people live but there has also been an increasing sense of loneliness and isolation. We want to make a hyper-physical place that reconnects Seoulites with nature, culture and, most importantly, with each other,’ commented Heatherwick.


‘Nodeul Island will give everyone an amazing excuse to escape and embrace the city. A landscape that bends and folds like soundwaves will combine with a new nature-rich waterfront and offer people a place to discover and express the culture of Seoul,’ he continued.


The island landscape will evolve as the tides and seasons change, according to the firm. Rather than demolishing the existing artificial landscape, the design will strengthen the riverbanks with soft, naturalistic plantings. The ground level of the park will feature an arts centre and a public beach.


The landscape will then rise to an events podium which connects to a dramatic 1,2km-long skywalk formed by a series of small floating islets, held in the air, providing resting spaces with spectacular views across the island and the river back to Seoul. 


Neil Hubbard, group leader and partner at Heatherwick Studio, said: ‘We’ve been really intrigued by how new interventions can bring Nodeul Island to life. It’s not just about an exciting new aerial canopy, but developing a whole creative ecosystem, where spaces above and below the floating landscape are buzzing with activity. Upon first discovering a serene, restful island where the landscape focuses on native flora and fauna, visitors will then wander up from the water’s edge to experience drama and harmonies in the sky.’


Nodeul Island will be Heatherwick Studio’s first project in South Korea to go into construction. The studio will now start work with the Metropolitan Government on the next stages of design, and visitors should be able to enjoy the new Nodeul Island in 2027. 



Happy city


The green side


The white tower