Seoul launching ‘Floating Island’

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Seoul launching ‘Floating Island’


An artist’s rendition of the Floating Island. Provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government

The Seoul Metropolitan Government’s ambitious plan to revitalize recreation areas and the ecology by establishing the “Floating Island,” three large-scale, man-made floating islets on the Han River near Banpo Bridge in the heart of Seoul, will be launched tomorrow after a year of construction, according to the city government.

With a combined investment of 96.4 billion won ($83.9 million) from the city government and a consortium of construction companies, the second island, named Viva and measuring 3,271 square meters (35,209 square feet), will be set up over two days beginning today and buoy on the river tomorrow. Currently, construction of the whole project is 58 percent finished. The other two islands, Vista (4,737 square meters) and Tera (1,200 square meters), will debut on the river later and the three islands that make up the Floating Island will be unveiled to the public in August, government officials said.

“There are artificial islands in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, but they’re in addition to the actual natural islands in the area. Seoul’s Floating Islands are remarkable because they are completely man-made ones that will float on the river,” said Kim Hyeong-keon, a city official involved in the project. “That’s why we’re not calling them artificial islands, we’re calling it the Floating Island.

“There already are artificial floating islands overseas similar to what Seoul is building now: Floating Garden in Rostock, Germany, and Mur Island [The Murinsel] in Graz, Austria. While the two artificial islands are relatively small and the purposes of the venues are limited, Seoul’s Floating island is big enough to serve multiple purposes.”

Kim explained that the three islands are designed to be used for international conventions, water sports activities, restaurants, performances and exhibitions.

The buoy of Viva, the second biggest island after Vista, measures 85 meters (279 feet) long, 49 meters wide and 3 meters high, and weighs 2,000 tons. Only 80 centimeters of the buoy will be submerged underwater, and Viva will be able to accommodate and uphold facilities that weigh up to 6,400 tons. The island will be used mainly for entertainment and cultural events.

How can a 2,000-ton buoy float?

Construction workers will place 24 airbags, each measuring 2 meters in diameter and 12 meters in length, under Viva’s giant buoy. The airbags are made of a special rubber that can support a 2,000-ton buoy, and will enable it to keep afloat.

After construction workers set Viva’s buoy on the water, they will embed a 500-ton concrete block in the river bed and connect that to the buoy with metal chains to prevent Viva from moving or washing away.

Each island is designed to automatically control the tightness of the chains. If a flood raises the water level more than 16 meters, the metal chains of the floating islands will automatically tighten to keep the islands in their original locations. To ensure the stability of each island, the longest metal chain measures up to 69 meters, according to Kim of the Seoul city government.

A system will monitor the movements of the islands, and should one divert more than one meter away from its original location, it will be automatically returned to its home site.

Under the government’s plan, all the facilities will be built after each buoy is set on the river.

“We’re hoping that the Floating Island will become Seoul’s new landmark where people can enjoy leisure, exhibitions, performance and conventions along the Han River,” Kim said.

Meanwhile, the Seoul city government, also the host city of upcoming G-20 Summit in November, said yesterday it is under discussion with Blue House officials about hosting events and conferences related to the G-20 Summit - programs for spouses of G-20 leaders and Business 20 summit, where business leaders from the G-20 countries will convene in Seoul for talks - on the Floating Island. The main G-20 summit will be held in COEX, a convention center, located in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.

By Kim Mi-ju []

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