The City, the Sea and the Space Between: The Port as Urban Borderlands

In Busan, the city and the sea are in constant tension. Located at the southern tip of the Korean Peninsula, the city is pressed between the Geumjeong Mountain and the Sea of Japan. Compressed between its natural boundaries, Busan’s urban character is defined by collisions. At the frontline of the city’s inherent spatial tension is its port, a space defined by the relationship between the city, the sea and, in recent years, the increasing gap between them.
Here, informal and formal architecture are pressed against one another with no boundaries to dull the richness of their interaction. Urban areas are dense and alive with the hum of shared space. Buildings spill into the street and vice versa. Smells, sights and sounds are passed between spaces with little to filter their potency. Free of spatial and sensorial margins, Busan’s architecture and urban spaces collide into one another and are made all the richer for it.
Within the port of Busan lies the Jagalchi fish market, the largest fish market in Korea. Like Busan itself, the Jagalchi fish market is a compressed space, pressed between the harbour and a hard urban edge. While the market remains a rich environment, formal boundaries built over the last fifteen years have divorced the market from the sea, the one no longer palpable in the space of the other. Where boats, piers and urban markets once extended the city into the harbour, today, large-scale infrastructure has created a thick band of industrial and utilitarian spaces, reducing the once-liminal boundary between city and sea into a binary condition.

Using a proposed water taxi network as a catalyst, this project looked to create a new middle in the spatial dichotomy of city and sea. This place, later titled Layover City, would act as a literal and perceptual medium in which city and sea were to collide. As a mooring platform for the local fishing industry and a hub for a proposed water taxi system, Layover City acts as a place of respite for those between trips, spaces and people colliding in the process.