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MVRDV’s Seoul Skygarden Is Like The High Line On Steroids

The Seoul Skygarden will transform a disused highway into a planted paradise the size of two football fields.

Move over, High Line: Rotterdam-based design firm MVRDV has developed a winning concept for a skygarden in Seoul that might just become the new gold standard for public parks that repurpose old infrastructure.

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The Seoul Station Overpass is a 3,000-foot elevated highway running through the South Korean capital. Originally build in the 1970s over Seoul’s largest train station to connect the Namdaemun Market to parks in the west, the Seoul Station Overpass was declared unsafe for vehicles in 2006. MVRDV’s plan for the Seoul Station Overpass turns it into some sort of fantasy garden out of Rivendell.

It’s hardly the first idea for a public park that reuses old infrastructure. Ever since the opening of New York’s magnetic elevated High Line, we’ve seen no end of copycats: an elevated park for Washington D.C., Thomas Heatherwick’s idea for a floating park in New York, and Chicago’s El Line, to name just a few.

MVRDV’s idea is unique for repurposing car infrastructure–the bane of vibrant city living everywhere–into a sort of “living dictionary of the national heritage of Korea,” to quote to MVRDV’s press statement. In cooperation with Dutch design studio Studio Makkink & Bey and landscape designer Ben Kuipers, MVRDV plans to convert the overpass’s 104,000-square-foot area–about the size of two football fields–into a pedestrian walkway, as well as a public arboretum of 254 trees, bushes, and plants. The flora will be organized along the skygarden according to where each species’ name falls in the Korean alphabet.

The Skygarden is also expected to have a consumer element. It’ll be lined with cafes, flower shops, street markets, libraries, and even greenhouses. MVRDV even intends for the skygarden to function as a nursery, raising trees and other plants for distribution in public spaces throughout Korea.

Now that MVRDV’s design has been selected, construction on the Seoul Skygarden will kick into high gear: the government of Seoul wants the project completed just two years from now, in 2017. That seems ambitious compared to projects like the High Line renovation, which took six years (any many, many more years of planning), but the Seoul Skygarden will only be a third as long.

More information about the Seoul Skygarden can be found on MKRDV’s site here.

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