Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Seoul Station Elevated Park (Seoul Station Project 7017? The Seoul Vine?) - An Update

More about Park Won-soon's pet project, the Seoul Station Elevated Park also known as the Seoul High Line ("Diagonal crossings, High Lines, and Business Verticals (how pedestrians and businesses remodel Seoul... and vice-versa)").

It seems that marketing came up with suggestions for branding, and the good news is that we may not stick to the 'me-too' "High Line". The result could be a 'Seoul Station Project 7017'* reminiscent of the 'Culture Station Seoul 284' it steps across.

7017 echoes the dates of its inaugurations as a motorway (1970) and as a pedestrian park (2017), as well as its height (17 m), and its number of accesses (17)... 

Come on. 7017? I'm sure you could find something more exciting than this. 

As a tribute to the vinos at the origin of the project (those who occupied the walkway that will be replaced by this elevated park), I suggest "The Seoul Vine". After all, doesn't it look like a grape?






Note that exit #1 is Namdaemun Market: the recent demonstration of merchants against the project obviously paid off! It is followed by Hoehyeon-dong (#2, on the other side of Toegyero), Namsan and Hilton Hotel (#3 and #4, which will require an extension), Namdaemun (#5, with another extension), three buildings (GS Building #6, Yonsei Building #7, Seoul Square #8), Seoul Station subway (#9, it seems around the subway exit 9 too), the bus transfer zone (#10), the Culture Station Seoul 284 (#11), the future International Conference Centre (#12), the Airport Terminal (#13), Cheongpa-dong, Malli-dong, and Jungnim-dong (#14, #15, #16), Seosomun Park (#17).

Adding accesses for pedestrians makes perfect sense, but it also means adding many staircases or elevators to the cityscape, and making the main structure look more massive, less aerial than it is - not to mention of course the biomass. Furthermore, nets are considered, maybe to prevent people from jumping or throwing things at the traffic below.

And what about these new extensions towards Namsan and Namdaemun? What's the point of removing Cheonggyecheon overpass or aiming at a spot on the Unesco World Heritage List for the Seoul Fortress if you add more elevated structures next to a landmark like Sungnyemun? 

And what about the new bridge considered to accommodate the 50,000+ cars taking this elevated road every day? How far and how high will it fly?

At this stage, I'm not saying a big NO to this project, which has the potential to be both a lovely ride and an urban nonsense, but in less biblical dimensions than the elevated heresy envisioned a couple of years ago for Seochon (see "No cablecars in Bukhansan, please"). I'm simply saying this: be cautious, think about the long term impacts for the city and its citizens, and don't think you can fix a mess at ground level** by just rolling out a nice rug on top of it.

Seoul Village 2015
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* e.g. "박원순 "서울역고가 공원화는 서울역 재생 위한 것"(종합)" (Maeil Business Newspaper - 20150129)
** e.g. see previous episode.

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