Rotterdam-based design practice MVRDV just won a competition to design Seoul’s version of Manhattan’s High Line Park. The nearly one-kilometer-long elevated public park, titled Seoul Skygarden, will replace a section of an abandoned highway located next to Seoul’s main station. But though the city cites the famous New York City elevated High Line as a major inspiration, MVRDV’s designs are far from a carbon copy—Seoul Skygarden will have distinctly Korean features to build on the capital’s growing reputation as a hub for eco-friendly innovation.
Seoul is no stranger to the adaptive reuse of transit corridors: ten years ago, the city famously tore down a 14-lane freeway to develop Cheonggyecheon River Park, a 11-kilometer-long urban recreational space that snakes through Seoul’s downtown; the park is recognized as one of the world’s most celebrated urban renewal projects. Since the beginning of the 2000s, the city has demolished over a dozen other elevated motorways. With the Seoul Skygarden however, the city will remake one of the main east-west transit corridors into a 938-meter-long elevated park in the heart of Seoul.
MVRDV’s Seoul Skygarden design centers on the addition of an arboretum that will include 254 local species of trees, shrubs, and flowers. This library of plants will be organized according to the Korean alphabet and visitors will be encouraged to learn about and take selfies next to their favorite local plant. The plant species will also be arranged in “neighborhood”-like clusters with consistent signage to differentiate the various spaces in the Skygarden.
In addition to the arboretum of local Korean plants, the Seoul Skygarden will include an urban nursery that will grow trees for surrounding districts and parks. The elevated park will be further activated with modular and customizable units for businesses and public amenities such as cafes, flower shops, street markets, libraries, and greenhouses. Stairs, escalators, elevators, and “satellite” gardens will connect the park with the urban fabric below. The Seoul Metropolitan Government expects to spend approximately $37.5 million on the elevated park project.
Images © MVRDV