Abandoned Highway in Seoul to Become a Beautiful Skygarden
In the 1970s, the city of Seoul built an overpass to facilitate the movement of cars to and from the busy Namdaemun market. The 17 meter high structure was deemed unsafe during an inspection in 2006 and eventually heavy vehicles were ordered to stop driving on the road in 2009. The city initially intended to demolish this particular stretch of the highway until conversations with residents and experts brought in a new idea - regeneration.
Regeneration of the Highway
Once the idea of regeneration of the highway surfaced, the city was quick to recognize the benefits. Covering 9,661 square meters of area, the highway section could become a very useful place and add more green right in the heart of the city. Eventually, a competition was launched to make the Seoul Skygarden a reality. Dutch studio MVRDV emerged as the winner of the competition and will soon begin work on transforming the overpass and highway.
MVRDV plans to enrich the Skygarden with 254 species of flora, keeping a focus on trees to create an urban arboretum. The plants, trees, and shrubs will be planted in circular pots made to suit the size of each species. Arrangement of these plants and trees will follow the order of the Korean alphabet, providing oodles of fun and learning for the young and old alike.
The pedestrian walkway and public space that the garden creates will also be populated by other points of interest like tea cafes, shops, street markets, a library, and greenhouses. In a very subtle way, the Skygarden will add commercial interests along with environmental ideas, creating a beautiful win-win situation. Since the purpose of the erstwhile highway and overpass would now stand changed, new access points will be added, connecting to the Skygarden by means of stairs, escalators and elevators.
The Seoul Skygarden is quite an interesting idea but rather than remain a simple exercise in design, it also offers several concrete benefits. The Seoul Skygarden will add more public green space right in the heart of the city. It will make access by foot easier to the Namdaemun market, downtown areas and the neighboring railway station. The economic benefits from the park are expected to be substantial. It is expected to generate 1.83 times the money spent on the renovation and maintenance of the park.