Dominique Perrault Architecture has been tapped to design the Gangnam International Transit Center, a gargantuan and nature-filled transit terminal that aims to alleviate congestion in the heart of Seoul. The $1.15 billion project will span 160,000 square meters with six underground floors topped by a 30,000-square-meter public plaza described by the architects as a response to New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. A crystalline glass roof will bring natural light and air deep into the subterranean levels, and gives rise to the project’s name, Lightwalk.
Introducing a mammoth complex into the heart of the capital is no easy task. In hopes of advancing Seoul’s agenda toward pedestrian friendly development, the architects created a subterranean transit terminal with the upper two levels dedicated to public and commercial purposes including an exhibition hall, a museum, a library, and a shopping mall. The remaining four floors will be used as parking lots and as bus, subway (for lines 2 and 9), train transit and transfer centers. Over 600,000 transit passengers are expected to use the underground terminal daily—roughly twice the number of visitors to Seoul Station.
Aboveground, the landscaped plaza, called The Green Land, will be ringed by a double line of high canopy trees, while pocket parks and large grassy areas allow for a wide variety of activities, from private picnics to food festivals. A wide glass roof, called the Light Beam, runs the length of the plaza to bring natural light to the underground floors and will be supplemented by solar light pipes. The transit terminal will also house an underground park covered in greenery and illuminated by natural light from the light beam.
“It is a minimalistic, yet incredibly powerful gesture, which marks the presence of a new major integrated public transportation station for the city of Seoul,” write the architects. “Spanning between the two main road of the Gangnam district, Bongeunsaro and Teheranro, the Lightwalk creates a landscape intervention linking the two axis and acts as an orientation mark from all sides. Rooted in the ground, it is the symbol of a renewed Seoul, which aims to become more pedestrian friendly, a landmark for all underground infrastructures worldwide, where users can experience natural light and air, deep into the ground, in the Groundscape.” Construction is expected to begin in 2019 with a tentative completion date in 2023.