UNStudio Designs Yeosu Gyeongdo Island Masterplan


UNStudio has designed a sustainable masterplan for Gyeongdo Island, a new 470,000 m2 leisure destination in South Korea where nature plays the leading role.

The current pandemic has highlighted the importance of including green zones in urban design as a means to create ‘preventive infrastructures’ and render our built environment more resilient in its control of pandemics. In the masterplan for Gyeongdo Island, the buildings and the public spaces centres around the natural environment and the green qualities inherent to the island. All parts of the masterplan offer continuous motion and flow, while the buildings take full advantage of the views and their proximity to nature.


Gyeongdo Island is designed to provide an experience that contrasts with city life by providing a healthy and natural environment where culture and nature exist in harmony. The Korean garden – an important element of Korean culture – acts as the main inspiration for the design of the master plan for Gyeongdo Island. Traditionally, The Korean garden offers a place for human activities within a seamlessly linked natural and manmade environment. Going beyond traditional landscape design, the masterplan focuses on nature as a key element in curating experiences on the island. This is manifested in multiple gardens that re-imagine the concept of the garden in unique and individual ways.

While each development on the island is characterized by a distinct garden concept, the buildings respond to their natural settings by way of their design and sustainable performance. The trees, flowers and vegetation are also distinct to each neighborhood and function as unique characteristics and natural wayfinding tools. In addition to the gardens, and by enriching and reinforcing the existing green conservation areas, the masterplan makes space for a lush forest. This process of enrichment and of developing nature enables a dynamic and changing landscape that will offer different experiences to recurrent visitors.


Gyeongdo Island is located at the southern part of the Korean peninsula, 2 km away from the shoreline of the city of Yeosu, the main tourist hub of the Namhae region. Namhae (which means south sea in Korean), is a region famous for its beautiful green islands and views over the ocean. The island offers outstanding access to both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The shoreline in the south offers unobstructed views to the ocean and the small neighbouring uninhabited islands that dot the horizon. In the North, views to Yeosu reveal the skyline of a growing urban landscape.

The mountainous terrain of the island, along with its protected forest, offers spectacular views over the water amongst pristine flora and fauna. Aiming to turn Gyeongdo Island into Asia’s number one marine and coastal tourism destination, the new development offers a rich programme of amenities, activities and infrastructure, including among others, an exclusive hotel, private villas, holiday apartments, an outdoor-indoor water park resort, shopping centre, marinas and a cable-car.





Client: YKDevelopment, Ltd.
Economic Strategy: Saskia Leenstra (NL), LDP (UK)
Digital Communication: squint/opera (UK)
Landscape: Or/Else (NL)
Water Management and IT: Nelen & Schuurmans (NL)
Traffic: MIC (IT)
Visualizations: Plomp (NL), Flying Architecture (CZ)

UNStudio team

Ben van Berkel, Caroline Bos, Frans van Vuure with Dana Behrman and Maria Zafeiriadou, Milena Stopic, Olga Kovrikova, Vlad Cuc, Pietro Scarpa, Pietro Marziali, Ajax Abreu Garcia, Saba Nabavi, Alexander Nanu, Pedro Silva Costa, Qiao Xu, Chen Shijie, Ana Maldonado, Matthew Harrison, Niek Immers, Alexander Kalachev, Leon Hansmann, Atira Ariffin, Yiya Wang, Suhan Na, Haoran Wang, Cagdas Delen, Patrik Noome, Bart Bonenkamp 

Visualizations (CGI) by ©Plompmozes with courtesy of UNStudio


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