© The Reef of Silence - Yunil Nam

© The Reef of Silence - Yunil Nam

Yunil Nam on his project and the Foundation

Hi my name is Yunil Nam, from South Korea; I have just finished my Master’s Degree in architecture at the University of Greenwich in London. Now I am working at an architectural practice in London. I am glad that I won this competition and shared my idea of the ocean with this architectural project.

What does your project mean to you?

The Reef of Silence is a visionary underwater burial place to vitalize marine life, especially coral reefs, transforming and utilizing nutrients from human [corpses]. 
The Reef of Silence means a lot to me. It has been my dream and my goal. For a long time I have always been visualising myself to do an architectural project for my species, and even though processing the actual idea took a while, I am pleased with the final outcome […].
Back […] in 2012, I went to the ocean to do scuba diving and was really excited to live this experience. However, I was very sad to see that [this] beautiful natural heritage was getting […] destroyed by human activities.

What challenges did you face during the creation process of your project?

I remember facing a lot of challenges to complete this project within a year. It was not so easy to connect death, which is a very sophisticated and actual topic, and coral reefs, which [is extremely diverse] in its biological and ecological characteristics.
I put huge efforts on research, article reading. It really helped me to get ideas and support my visionary narrative.
It was such a great opportunity to start my dream project with Jules Verne’s sci-fi story, because 20 000 leagues under the sea is one of my favourite books. It [describes] amazing marine life and underwater sceneries; […] I quite like the event of underwater burial in this story.
Then I tried to create my own architectural narrative on my project about death and coral. To […] articulate my project I read books about the history of death to understand how its notion is different according to different eras and cultures. I read academic articles about how coral reef is destroyed and what researches and efforts are trying to revitalize it.
Thereby, I could specify the potential site of my project in the Indian Ocean. I found an interesting culture of burials in India [where] death is not just the end of life, but another beginning by returning to the nature.
It was quite long and difficult to visualize my idea and narrative by hand. The three final drawing took me 9 weeks to finish; it was to be honest, physically painful work. Almost A0 size (84.1 x 118.9cm) drawing required me to have the highest carefulness and concentration as well as to make a lot of decisions while drawing.

How does it feel to try to be one of the most visionary architects in the world?

Speculating invisible and advanced things and suggesting the innovative seem to give a strong feeling of achievement. I thing that feeling while make me keep doing visionary projects in the future.

Do you think the Foundation played a crucial role in your project’s advancement, visibility?

The foundation played a significant role in my project, because it certainly helped me and gave [me] strong confidence. It wouldn’t be possible to have further motivation to keep doing this kind of visionary projects [otherwise].  

Why participate in such a competition? Would you do it again?

The idea of the competition shares common interests with me, it is not just architectural competition but Jacques Rougerie and the other people in the foundation are putting great efforts to keep protecting nature. This is the [what made me] submit my project to the competition.

What’s the next step?

As I mentioned, I love the ocean. I love to look at the beautiful world under the sea, but it is a shame we are losing it. I want to have the beautiful nature around me forever and I want to give it to the next generation.

A word of advice for this year’s participants?

I would like to say be confident in your project, try to make your own story behind [it] and enjoy it, you may [feel] stress and face difficulties, but if you truly show your motivation in it, I am sure you will have fun in the end. Have fun, and thank you.