When you think about amusement parks, more than likely words like "thrilling" and "exciting" come to mind. But what would you think about a theme park that bills itself as "risky?"
An Architect named Soon-min Hong is proposing such a park for the South Korean city of Daegu. Why, in this risk-averse world we live in, would he do that?
"Today, we tend to be obsessed over our personal safety rather than being willing to take a risk," Hong says. "In a risk-averse society, people like firefighters are willing to take a risk to save others. However, the fire service in South Korea is highly undervalued and public apathy towards the degrading working conditions of firefighters prevails."
He further feels that because people are no longer prepared to take risks that might prepare them for dangerous situations, they have no appreciation for those who do.
"I am approaching this matter with the following question: How can an architectural proposal increase the public's appreciation for the act of taking a risk? Risk-taking is valuable and desirable. For instance, adventure playgrounds encourage children to engage in risky play because it is beneficial for childhood development."
"We live in an age obsessed with personal safety," explained Hong. "This creates a risk deficit in society, forcing others to take on risk on behalf of the public."
Soon-min Hong's "Risk Theme Park" combines an adventure playground for adults, and a space of remembrance for fallen firefighters and other first-responders. He feels the direct physical and spatial experience of risk-taking will educate people about risk. He is hopeful that the social repercussions of this will be an increased appreciation for firefighters.
His high-rise structure would be located in the center of the city so it is highly accessible to the public. An amalgamation of different types of structures, the theme park would be constructed on top of an existing fire station and police station. There would be nine main levels, each one representing a different kind of risk.
On the first floor, visitors would be invited to jump off the roof of a burning building. Other floors offer different experiences related to fires. Visitors can escape from a flood. Experience a monorail crash. Be part of a mountain rescue. See what zero gravity is like.
The building's skeletal structure is designed to make activities as visible as possible to the city's residents. This would also make it easier to replace sections that have been burned or destroyed.
"Some of the building can be destroyed in a fire as a simulation, and then rebuilt for the next experiment or simulation," Hong said.
"I visited the Saegu Design Safety Theme Park and experienced the two-hour course. My design has a totally different approach. I think people would be more interested in a risk theme park than a safety experience center."
Sounds like just the kind of idea that would go over big in DC, doesn't it?