In a public park in Seoul, South Korea, an elaborate network of wooden benches spreads out like the roots of a tree. Based on his winning design from the Hangang Art Competition, Yong Ju Lee has created an artistic and functional piece of public furniture for all to enjoy. Known as Root Bench, this network of benches with a nearly 100-foot (30 meter) diameter is composed of wood “roots” that spider out at different elevations.
A steel frame covered in wood decking provides public furniture at three different heights—a children's chair, an adult chair, and a table. The organic design is the result of a computer algorithm that generated the radial form of the benches in a manner that blends with the grassy background. The ingenious design provides a welcome place of respite for the public and allows for many users at the same time without seeming overcrowded.
Intended to blur the lines between a man-made installation and the natural environment, Yong Ju Lee's design is as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional. At night, lighting under the elevated portions provides a measure of security and warmth to the space, ensuring that Root Bench can be used day and night. Whether looking to sprawl out or enjoy a picnic with a friend, the public can take advantage of Root Bench as an oasis in the bustling city.
The project is the perfect example of Yong Ju Lee's practice, which focuses on “geometric experiment as a primary creative and aesthetic gesture of building.” His keen interest in geometry and tessellation shines through in Root Bench and demonstrates how new technology can be used effectively to create minimally invasive, organic architecture.