Seoullo 7017: recycling a highway into city park

Seoullo 7017

Two weeks ago the grand opening of Seoullo 7017 took place in the Korean capital Seoul. A 16 metre high overdue highway overpass was transformed into a public city park with 24,000 trees, the biggest variety of Korean plant species. The ‘sky garden’ is one kilometre long, eleven metres wide and connects various walkways with elevators and escalators. 

The city park is an idea of Mayor Park Won Soon, based on a similar initiative in New York City, Highline Park, which he visited in 2014. As the mayor did not want it to be a copycat, he organized a contest to design the bridgepark. Seven international Architects enlisted. The contest was won by MRDV architects.

Seoullo is one of the many city initiatives to make the city centre greener and more pedestrian friendly. The oark is gathering 50 families of plants including trees, shrubs and flowers displayed in 645 tree pots, collecting around 228 species and sub-species. In total, the park will include 24,000 plants (trees, shrubs and flowers) that are newly planted many of which will grow to their final heights in the next decade.

Seoullo 7017

Image (c)  Ossip van Duivenbode

The viaduct is next to Seouls train station. Seoullo, the Korean name for Skygarden translates to ‘towards Seoul’ and ‘Seoul Street’, while 7017 marks the overpass’ construction year of 1970, and its new function as a public walkway in 2017.

The linear park is arranged according to the Korean alphabet and designed as a collection of small gardens, each one with its very own composition, perfume, colour and identity. The landscape will change according to the seasons: the bright colours of leaves in autumn of the Aceraceae family (maples), the blossom of cherry trees and rhododendron in spring, the evergreen conifers trees in winter and shrubs and trees bearing fruit in summer.

A living nursery. Multiple stairs, lifts, bridges and escalators connect the city to the new park, rebounding it to the adjacent urban fabric.  At night, the Skygarden is illuminated in blue lights in contrast to the bright city lights as the colour is friendly to nature. During festivals and celebrations, different colours can also be changed.

Seoullo 7017

 Images (c)  Ossip van Duivenbode

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