Seoullo 7017 Skygarden

Located in the heart of Seoul, a true plant village has been realised on a former inner city highway in an ever-changing urban area accommodating the biggest variety of Korean plant species and transforming it into a public 983-metre long park 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 includes 24,000 plants (trees, shrubs and flowers),  many of which will grow to their final heights in the next decade.  

Facts

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Year: 2015+

Client: Seoul Metropolitan Government

Program: Transformation of 938-metre section of elevated highway (9,661 m2) into public space

Budget: Undisclosed

About

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 pedestrianised viaduct next to Seoul's main station is the next step towards making the city and especially the central station district, greener, friendlier and more attractive, whilst connecting all patches of green in the wider area.

In central Seoul, a true plant village has been realised on a former inner city highway in an ever-changing urban area accommodating the biggest variety of Korean plant species and transforming it into a public 983-metre long park 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.  

Since the project was won by MVRDV in May 2015, the main challenge of the Skygarden has been to transform the existing overpass into a public garden, overlaying a matrix of Korean flora onto the 16m elevated steel and concrete structure. How to transform a 1970’s highway into a Skygarden and how to change the daily life of thousands of people who cross Seoul’s city centre every day? From the start, MVRDV engaged with this need to change the forgotten and existing infrastructure into a green symbol that will become a catalyst for a greener quarter for Seoul. Together with the municipality, local NGO’s, landscape teams and city advisers are committed to accommodating the biggest diversity of flora into a strictly urban condition. New bridges and stairs connect the viaduct with hotels, shops and gardens.

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.

In the future, the overpass will evolve with new plants and new activators so as to become an ‘urban nursery’, rearing trees for the surrounding districts. Additional structures of stairs, lifts and escalators as well as new ‘satellite’ gardens, can connect to the Skygarden, sprouting like branches from the existing structural piers. These extensions can inspire further additions to the area’s greenery and public spaces, and will connect the Skygarden to its surroundings both physically and visually through plant species related to each of the neighbourhoods.

These contribute to enhancing the experience of users, boosting the park with activities that engage the city on a cultural and commercial level. Small mobile pots are added for seeds and plants that can be used afterwards in the bigger pots. 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.

Credits: 

Competition: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Wenchian Shi, Kyosuk Lee, Kai Wang, Ángel Sánchez Navarro, Jaewoo Lee, Antonio Luca Coco, Matteo Artico and Jaime Domínguez Balgoma.

Design Development: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Wenchian Shi, Kyosuk Lee, Mafalda Rangel, Kai Wang, Daehee Suk, Daan Zandbergen, Dong Min Lee and Sen Yang.

Partners:

Landscape Architect: Ben Kuipers, Delft, Netherlands

Local Architect: DMP, Seoul, Korea

Structure: Saman Engineering, Seoul, Korea

Local Landscape Designer: KECC, Seoul, Korea

Sustainability: EAN, Seoul, Korea

Architectural Structure: Cross, Seoul, Korea

Industrial Designers: Studio Makkink & Bey, Amsterdam, Netherlands

MEP: Samsin, Seoul, Korea

Traffic Engineers: Song Hyun R&D, Seoul, Korea

Lighting Design: Viabizzuno, Milan, Italy and Nanam Ald, Seoul Korea

App Design: nhtv, Breda, Netherlands

Cost Engineers: Myong Gun, Seoul, Korea

Design Development:

Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Wenchian Shi, Kyosuk Lee, Mafalda Rangel, Daehee Suk, Daan Zandbergen, Kai Wang, Sen Yang and Dong Min Lee

Landscape Design: Ben Kuipers landscape architect, MVRDV

Local Architect: DMP, Seoul, Korea

Structure: Saman Engineering, Seoul, Korea

Local Landscape Designer: KECC, Seoul, Korea

Lighting Design: Rogier van der Heide, MVRDV and Nanam Ald, Seoul Korea

Construction:

Team: Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries with Wenchian Shi, Kyosuk Lee, Mafalda Rangel, Dong Min Lee

Landscape Design: Ben Kuipers Landscape architect

Images: Ossip van Duivenbode

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