Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Towns : hanoks in Eunpyeong, a desert in Wangsimni

Hanoks are definitely in : a fortnight ago, I mentioned a project of traditional house complex in Seongbuk-dong (see "Hanok New Town in Seongbuk-dong"), and on Friday, Eunpyeong-gu announced on Friday a new hanok village on the other side of Bukhansan.

By 2014, 220 residences shall be erected over a 71890 square meter stretch at the feet of the mountain, but within Eunpyeong New Town limits : in the Northeasternmost part of block number 3-2... where, I think, a park was initially planned...

So once again, it smells like budongsan spirit to me : a cultural, eco-friendly project masking a real estate, eco-unfriendly operation. This hanok village is not only excellent for the Mayor's image, but a potential jackpot for developers : residences will probably be tagged at a premium cost, turning the village into the jewel of an until then rather weak crown.

OK, OK... hanoks are always welcomed, and this area needed a longlasting landmark (have you seen the new Eunpyeong-gu city hall ?). And the project also includes a nice paved road, plus an undescribed "Eunpyeong Museum" (은평박물관), which I'm pretty sure will display the artifacts exposed two years ago at the Seoul Museum of History (see "
Eunpyeong New Town, Old Tombs").

I hope some of the traditional houses will be open to the public, and not all reserved for wealthier residents. If harmoniously designed, this village could become a peaceful destination for visitors from Eunpyeong and beyond, and an ideal stop for hikers on the way to Bukhansan from Gupabal Station.

A new town that could use a few hanoks is Wangsimni. I passed by the barren site yesterday, on the way to Dongmyo flea market, and under a bright sun, the sandy dunes looked very much like a desert. In guise of a ghost town, a few barracks spared by the destruction : shop owners who refused to give up a strategic location at a corner or on a major axis, and a church that will probably quadruple its size after flocks of newtowners move in. Except for these wise speculators, the whole area will be rebuilt from scratch, and need to tell a story of its own without a trace from the past.

At least, one hundred years from now, Eunpyeong New Town residents will have a place that was given from the start the potential to grow a soul of its own.

Seoul Village 2011

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